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updated: 6/21/2014 11:58 PM

Mt. Rainier search for outdoors writer ends after body found

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  • Missing hiker Karen Sykes.

      Missing hiker Karen Sykes.
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

MOUNT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK, Wash. -- The search for a prominent outdoors writer on Mount Rainier was suspended Saturday after a woman's body was found, but the remains weren't immediately identified, officials said.

Mount Rainier National Park spokeswoman Patti Wold said that the body was recovered about 3 p.m. PDT in the general area where teams had been searching for 70-year-old Karen Sykes.

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She said that the woman's body was found off the trail near Boundary Creek in rough, steep terrain -- an area difficult to access and not commonly traveled.

There was no immediate word on the cause of death, and Wold said the medical examiner would determine the woman's identity.

Park officials had announced earlier in the day that the search had been suspended but did not elaborate.

Sykes hasn't been seen since she separated from her hiking partner on Wednesday.

She was reportedly working on a story when she and her partner encountered snow about 5,000 feet. Her partner stayed as she went on, with the idea that they'd reconvene, but she never turned up.

The partner, who made it safely back to the trailhead, reported her missing at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Six ground crews, including two dog teams, combed an expanded search area on Rainier's east side Saturday. Rescuers also searched by air.

Sykes had adequate survival gear to camp overnight in an emergency, Wold said.

Her friends had hoped that searchers would find her safely sheltered.

Safety concerns for Sykes and search crews included snow bridges, tree wells and steep, wet, slippery terrain, Wold said. A searcher was hurt Thursday when he punched through a snow bridge and was airlifted out of the search area.

Sykes is well-known in the Northwest hiking community and has written numerous hiking stories for online publications and newspapers.

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