The body of a missing hiker from Lakewood was recovered Friday afternoon from the steep slopes below a popular hiking trail at Mount Rainier National Park.
George Merriam, 66, was reported missing by his wife on Thursday evening when he did not return from a planned day hike on Pinnacle Peak south of Mount Rainier.
Rangers found Merriam’s vehicle at the trailhead Thursday evening and launched a hasty search of the trail in the dark, according to a statement released Friday evening by park officials.
The trail climbs about 1,150 feet in 1.7 miles to a saddle in the Tatoosh Range between Pinnacle and Plummer Peaks. The trail is popular among visitors not only for its dramatic views of Rainier, but also for views of Mount Adams and Mount St. Helens. Some hikers scramble to the top of Pinnacle or Plummer peaks, but the statement from park officials did not say if Merriam was attempting to travel off trail.
At daybreak Friday, rangers were able to launch a more thorough search that included a helicopter from Everett’s Northwest Helicopters and members of the Olympic, Seattle and Everett mountain rescue units.
At 8:30 a.m., shortly before a storm forced them off the mountain, rescuers in the helicopter spotted Merriam’s body on the steep slopes about 200 feet below the trail.
Ground teams needed seven hours to complete the recovery.