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Two hikers are missing in the Sierra Nevada

Hiking in the wilderness by yourself is NEVER a good idea.

Let me make that more clear.

Hiking in the wilderness by yourself is NEVER a good idea! :-)

Rescue teams were in the Sierra Nevada again today in separate searches for two missing hikers. In one search, more ground crews were called in, and two more helicopters, including a California Highway Patrol helicopter, were added to the search Larry Conn, 53, of Pacific Palisades. Conn left for a three-day backpacking trip in the Inyo National Forest on October 19 and never returned. Conn planned to hike through a rugged wilderness area in the eastern Sierra near the tiny village of Independence. According to the Parks Service Web site, Conn’s plan included a climb over Taboose Pass on a trail that is rated “strenuous” and which requires a climb of more than 6,000 feet.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks spokeswoman Dana Dierkes said that the search crews are focusing their search on the area of the pass, which is considered to be a likely location for a camp. The weather conditions are cold and icy, with up to 18 inches of snow on the ground.

In a second search,  Fresno County teams continue to look for Matthew Hanson, 52, a Visalia man who is missing after departing on a backpacking trip near Shaver Lake. Fresno County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Patrick Hanson said that the search is occurring in a mountainous region covered with about a foot of snow. Matthew Hanson, no relation to the Sheriff’s Lieutenant, left on October 16 with plans to return on the 25th. He was prepared with food and clothing and is an avid backpacker. Fresno authorities have requested help statewide, which is expected to arrive tonight or Monday.

The search for a third hiker came to end in the Desolation Wilderness, south of Lake Tahoe, when searchers found Nathan Sperring, 29, safe and sound after spending six days in the wilderness. When he was found on Thursday afternoon, Sperring had spent the last three days in his tent while waiting out a storm that had passed through.

Oh, did I mention that hiking in the wilderness by yourself is NEVER a good idea, especially as winter returns to the higher elevations? :-)

(Note added October 29, 2012: Matthew Hanson was found safe today near Cathedral Lake, at an altitude of almost 11,000 feet!)

-Bill at

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