A week of searching for a missing day hiker at Mount Rainier National Park has so far proven fruitless, prompting a decision by park officials to scale back the hunt.
Edwin Birch, 64, of Tacoma, Washington, and his son set out last Saturday to hike a 19-mile section of the Wonderland Trail, a 90-odd mile route that encircles Mount Rainier. The plan was to have each start from opposite ends of the section that stretched from Box Canyon to White River, with the younger man driving back to the trailhead he set out from to pick up his father. But the elder Birch never showed up at the White River trailhead as planned late last Saturday night.
On Friday the search for the man centered on high-probability locations near the Wonderland Trail, within the Boulder Creek drainage above the Ohanapecosh River, a park release said Saturday morning. Mount Rainier National Park search and rescue staff were assisted by staff from Olympic National Park and Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area, and were deployed in two three-person teams. Search activities were to be reduced again Saturday, as the park transitions towards a limited continuous search effort, the release said.
This section of the Wonderland Trail is snow covered above 6,300 feet and patchy at other locations.
Last month another day hiker went missing in the park after failing to return from a hike in the Owyhigh Lakes Trail area on the east side of the mountain. The body of Karen Sykes, a locally known outdoor writer said to be working on a story about hiking in Mount Rainier when she went missing, was found two days later.