Hiker vanishes off Pacific Crest Trail

Posted By: The Ski Channel on March 8, 2010 3:20 pm

Megan Kalkstein of KATU News reports:

NEAR BONNEVILLE DAM, Wash. – A hiker has disappeared after heading out from Portland last Thursday afternoon.

The 23-year-old woman told friends she was going for a hike to Table Mountain on the Pacific Crest Trail. Skamania County rescuers began searching for Katherine Heuther, pronounced “Heater,” Sunday after a missing persons report was filed over the weekend.

They are searching the Bonneville trail head, and have so far found the woman’s car and a receipt – on the trail – with her name on it.

A roommate said Huether left behind her usual long-term hiking companions: warm jackets and her dog. We’re told she is an avid hiker and it’s unusual for her to go on a hike alone.

Huether texted a friend around 3 p.m. Thursday saying she was at a trail head, was going for a short hike and would return home around 8 p.m.

Early Friday morning, around 1 a.m., a Skamania County deputy found her vehicle at the Pacific Crest trail head at the Bonneville Dam and ran the plates at that time. Her cell phone was in the vehicle.

The Skamania County Sheriff’s Office reports that on Saturday evening, around 9 p.m., the deputy received notification that the vehicle registration owner checked the previous evening matched that of the newly-reported-missing Katherine Heuther.

A friend said finding the receipt struck him as unusual as Huether did not typically litter, especially on a wilderness hike.

A search was conducted in the immediate area around the vehicle and on Sunday morning searchers began an intensive search of the area.

“Numerous roads and trails have been searched throughout the day utilizing both ground searchers and air support from the Portland Police Air Support Unit and the Hood River County Sheriff’s Office,” according to a Skamania County Sheriff’s Office press release.

Around 2 p.m. a hiker found the receipt showing a credit card purchase with Huether’s name on it near Table Mountain. Inclement weather shut the search down just after 6:30 p.m. Sunday.

Monday is Heuther’s 24th birthday. Her roommates and friends say she is planning to enroll full time at Portland State University.

The search for her resumed Monday morning. The Skamania County Sheriff’s Office requested additional air support and ground search teams through the Washington State Department of Emergency Services. Air operations are weather dependent; current weather in the area is light rain, cloud cover at approximately 800 feet with a temperature of 40 degrees.