ELLENSBURG, Wash. — Kittitas County searchers will begin Friday combing side trails along the Pacific Crest Trail that lead to small lakes and camping areas in hopes of finding a missing hiker.
“That’s the plan,” said Kittitas County Sheriff Gene Dana. “The process now is the ground teams on our end. Now we will go up any side trails that lead up to the Pacific Crest Trail. We’re trying to cover all of those and document all those places that he might have gone into.”
Thursday marked the third day teams from Yakima, Kittitas and Chelan counties had searched for Kris Fowler, 34, of Beavercreek, Ohio. Authorities from Yakima and Kittitas counties used helicopters to search a stretch of the trail between White and Snoqualmie passes while a team from Kittitas County searched north of Snoqualmie Pass. There was no sign of Fowler.
Store clerks in the Snoqualmie Pass area where hikers often drop in to pick up supplies or packages hadn’t seen him either, Dana said.
“We have no evidence that he’s made it as far as Snoqualmie Pass,” Dana said. “Hopefully he’s hunkered down somewhere if he’s hurt waiting for someone to find him. We’re going to keep people up there looking.”
Dana said more snow has fallen in the area and there’s now up to 5 feet of snow in the Blowout area, where hunters saw a hiker on Oct. 22 that might have been Fowler.
Kittitas County alone has about 20 searchers, many of them certified medical technicians and experienced climbers, looking for Fowler, Dana said.
Teams from all three counties have been involved in the search since Tuesday.
Since that time, Yakima County searchers have combed the 28-mile stretch of the trail between White and Chinook passes without any sign of Fowler, while Kittitas County searchers also came up empty-handed after scouring about a 70-mile area to the north between Chinook and Snoqualmie passes.
Fowler began his hike in early May in Southern California near the Mexico border, and planned to walk the entire 2,660-mile trail that ends in Canada. Before embarking on his journey, he had mapped the trail and identified places with cellphone service and where he could pick up packages. He kept in touch with family using Facebook and text messages about every two weeks.
His family became concerned last week after not hearing from him and learning from his cellphone provider that his phone had not been used in over a week’s time.
Fowler’s last confirmed sighting was on Oct. 12 at White Pass, where he told a store clerk he was headed north to Snoqualmie Pass. Two hunters reported seeing a hiker matching Fowler’s description near Blowout Mountain, about 35 miles north of Chinook Pass.
Fowler had walked more than 2,200 miles at the time he was reported missing.