2 helicopters, 45-person crew still search for missing Tacoma hiker at Mount Rainier

Staff writerJuly 16, 2014 

Two helicopters and 45 ground searchers continued to look for a missing Tacoma hiker on the east side of Mount Rainier.

Searchers are focusing on the Summerland, Nickel Creek Basin and Ohanapecosh Park areas, said Casey Broom, a member of the Pierce County Department of Emergency Management who is serving as the park’s spokeswoman during the search.

The search will continue Thursday and focus on the steep terrain at the headwaters of the Ohanapecosh River.

Edwin Birch, 64, was hiking alone on a hilly 19-mile leg of the 93-mile Wonderland Trail when he went missing.

According to park officials, Birch set out from the Box Canyon trailhead early Saturday after dropping his son off at the White River trailhead.

It was their second outing in their attempt to hike the trail around Mount Rainier during a series of trips. The weekend before, they’d made the much flatter journey from Longmire to Box Canyon on the south side of the mountain.

The son told park officials his father was trying to lose weight and that they hoped their Wonderland project would improve his conditioning.

The men crossed paths about 3:30 p.m. Saturday about 1.5 miles north of the Indian Bar backcountry camp and about 6,600 feet above sea level. The son told park officials his dad seemed tired but was doing well.

The son reportedly arrived at the car at about midnight, then drove to White River to meet his dad. When his father didn’t show up, the son notified park rangers at 1:30 a.m.

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