Hiker missing on mountain’s Wonderland Trail

10:22 am July 15th, 2014

A search was continuing Monday at Mount Rainier National Park for a day hiker who was reported missing last Saturday.
Park officials said Edwin Birch, 64, a Tacoma resident, was hiking with his son in the Panhandle Gap area on the Wonderland Trail. Birch set out from Box Canyon early Saturday morning after leaving his son at White River, where the younger man planned to hike the same trail in the opposite direction. Officials said the father and son had set a goal to hike the Wonderland Trail in sections, and Saturday’s mission was to hike the section between Box Canyon and White River, roughly 19 miles in length.
At approximately 3:30 p.m. that day, father and son met midway on the trail near Indian Bar at around 6,600 feet in elevation on the mountain. The son reported his father seemed well, although a bit tired, officials said. After arriving at the Box Canyon trailhead around midnight, the son went to their car and drove to pick up his father at White River. When his father didn’t appear, he notified park rangers at White River at 1:30 am.
By 7 a.m. Sunday morning, park officials initiated search efforts with 10 people on the ground and an MD530 helicopter from Northwest Helicopters. The entire trail, as well as high probability areas close to the point last seen, were covered that day without any signs of the missing hiker, according to officials.
The section of the Wonderland Trail where is snow covered above 6300 feet and patchy at other locations.
Monday’s search efforts included 53 people from Everett, Tacoma, and Olympia Mountain Rescues, along with an Everett Mountain Rescue dog team. Northwest Helicopters continued its air search.
The Wonderland Trail encircles Mount Rainier. The section where Birch was reported missing is snow-covered above 6,300 feet and has patches of snow at other locations.
Another hiker died of hypothermia after apparently becoming lost in a different part of the park last month.

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