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Park Rangers Search for Missing 76-Year-Old Hiker After He Disappears from Tracking Device

UPDATE: August 15 – Missing hiker Bill Roberts has been found.

From Sequoia National Park:

Missing hiker Bill Roberts has been located in Sequoia National Park. Roberts is in good health and is being reunited with his family.

Roberts hiked into the John Muir Trail from the Cottonwood/Trail Pass Trailhead in the Golden Trout Wilderness of Inyo National Forest on August 9. Roberts accidentally deviated from his intended route three days ago, and missed his planned August 12 meet up with his family at Bullfrog Lake in Kings Canyon National Park.

Roberts was carrying a Garmin inReach tracker at the start of his trip, but he lost it while descending the west side of Caltech Peak. He found his way back to the Lake South America Trail and ran into another hiker late this morning, at an elevation of about 11,500 feet. He used their tracking device to contact his family. A park search team located him 10 minutes later.

“This incident really underscores the fact that there is still a lot of snow in the high country, and it’s very easy to lose a trail in those conditions, especially with afternoon thunderstorms,” said Incident Commander Dave Fox. “Fortunately, this story had a positive outcome, but we urge everyone to be extra prepared and cautious in your trip planning and execution. The consequences of getting turned around can be deadly serious.”

Park Rangers in Sequoia National Park say a search is underway for a missing 76-year-old hiker. 

Officials with the National Park Service say Bill Roberts was last seen on Wednesday after his family dropped him off in the Cottonwood/Trail Pass Trailhead in the Golden Trout Wilderness of Inyo National Forest. That location is just outside the park. Roberts planned to hike along the John Muir Trail to Bullfrog Lake in Sequoia but has yet to show up.

Roberts’ family says they were tracking his progress with a GPS device when they lost the signal near the Caltech Peak ridgeline in the National Park. Officials say, “It is not yet known if updates ceased because the tracker is turned off, because of a malfunction, loss of signal, etc.” Park rangers began their search in that area and did find foot tracks.

California received a record amount of snowfall this year, and parts of the park remain covered. This includes the area where Roberts went missing which has 40% snow cover. The late snow is also causing creek crossings to be unseasonably high and swift. These conditions, combined with recent stormy weather, are slowing search efforts.

Over the weekend, NPS sent three search teams, including a drone and helicopter, to the area.

Investigators say Roberts has some backpacking experience, but this is his first solo trip. 

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