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Missing Hiker - SEKI - Gardiner Basin

Use this forum to stay informed on missing persons alerts, active SAR's and unfortunate hiker accidents we can all hopefully learn from. Any information you may have on a missing person, including first hand weather related information or any other insight (however little) may prove to be critical information to Law Enforcement / SAR in locating the person in question.
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Re: Missing Hiker - SEKI - Gardiner Basin

Postby maverick » Tue Aug 19, 2014 6:25 pm

Would recommend that they check the lower part of Gardiner Creek, there is
a lot of bush if one does not take the time to seek out the right route, and the
area right before reaching Mist Falls is the crux of this route, and potentially
the most dangerous. http://WildernessApertures.com/img/s6/v ... 1502-6.jpg

Do not know the current levels of Woods Creek, but trying to cross above Mist
Falls is dangerous, a fall or misstep could have swept him over Mist Falls and
some where down river.
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Re: Missing Hiker - SEKI - Gardiner Basin

Postby oleander » Tue Aug 19, 2014 8:35 pm

Regarding current conditions on part of the route - Charlotte Lake to Gardiner Pass, to the 9000-foot level in Gardiner Basin - SAR could call up Ranger Matt at White Mountain Ranger District. He walked that section around 7/31.
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Re: Missing Hiker - SEKI - Gardiner Basin

Postby SEKI Public Affairs » Tue Aug 19, 2014 9:28 pm

An updated news release about the missing hiker was issued a short while ago. Unfortunately, the National Park Service's web interface appears to be down for maintenance at this time, so I cannot provide you with a link to the news release at this time. See text below...

Missing Hiker in Kings Canyon National Park

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, CA – On Tuesday, August 19, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks’ staff, in cooperation with Yosemite National Park (Yosemite Search and Rescue and its canine team—YODOGs) and the California Highway Patrol, searched for missing hiker Gregory Muck in Kings Canyon National Park. The 46-year-old male from Santa Cruz, CA, was reported overdue from a backpacking trip. See photo and flyer.

Missing Hiker’s Itinerary:
On August 10, Muck departed alone from the Roads End area of Kings Canyon National Park. He planned to hike to Gardiner Basin via Gardiner Pass. After several days in the basin, he planned to hike out Gardiner Creek to Woods Creek and return to Roads End in Cedar Grove by August 17. On August 18, 2014, at approximately 8:00 a.m., Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks’ Dispatch Office was notified of the missing hiker via a phone call from Muck’s wife.

Identifying Features:
• Height: 6-feet-tall
• Race: White
• Weight: 160-170 lbs.
• Hair Color: Blond, Eye Color: Brown
• Big beard
• Blue bandana
• Bright blue shirt
• Red internal frame backpack
• Green wool pants
• Blue tarp or possible orange tent
• Black boots
• Fishing gear

Anyone with Possible Information--or who had been in this area of the park from
August 10-17, 2014:

Please call 559-565-3118 or 888-677-2746 with your name, contact info, and additional details.

Search Staffing:
• August 19, 2014: A total of 55 staff and partners searched by ground and helicopter, conducted interviews, and planned for the next day’s operation.
• August 18, 2014: A total of 21 park staff searched by ground, conducted interviews, and planned for the next day’s operation. In addition, parks’ staff handled two other search-and-rescue incidents.

Background:
• See flyer for basic information about the missing hiker -
http://www.nps.gov/seki/parknews/upload ... pdated.pdf
• A photograph of the missing hiker is available at -
http://www.nps.gov/seki/parknews/upload ... beard.jpeg
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Re: Missing Hiker - SEKI - Gardiner Basin

Postby meanstay » Tue Aug 19, 2014 10:42 pm

Greg Muck is my brother in law. I'm trying to figure out what route he may have taken to Gardiner Pass from Bubbs Creek. Has anyone ever taken the route highlighted in red? Bubbs Creek to Glacier Monument to Gardiner Pass.
Gardiner Pass Via Bubbs Creek.pdf
Bubbs Creek to Gardiner pass
(4.9 MiB) Downloaded 76 times
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Re: Missing Hiker - SEKI - Gardiner Basin

Postby Ska-T » Tue Aug 19, 2014 11:31 pm

meanstay wrote:Greg Muck is my brother in law. I'm trying to figure out what route he may have taken to Gardiner Pass from Bubbs Creek.

If he took that general route he most likely would have gone up from Bubbs Creek following Charlotte Creek until he passed Charlotte Dome. That is the route Oleander referred to in the 2nd post of this thread. I doubt he would have been very far west of Charlotte Creek because it is too steep, and highly doubtful he would be near Glacier Monument.
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Re: Missing Hiker - SEKI - Gardiner Basin

Postby maverick » Wed Aug 20, 2014 8:59 am

Hi Meanstay,

Welcome to HST! Hoping for the best out come for you brother in law!

Would also recommend checking the King Col area, he may have tried to
descend Gardiner Creek and found it to steep, it gets class 2-3 quickly before
even getting to the crux down near Mist Falls, and then may have tired using
King Col as an alternative exit point.
Some of us do not like exiting the same route as we used in entering an area.
King Col though easier than Gardiner Creek is not the easiest class 2, and
footing is very important because of the loose marble like rocks at the top of
the pass.

Would be helpful if you could tell us about Gregory's experience level, and style
of hiking. Here is a form we ask people to fill out before asking for route advice,
some of the answer to these questions would be helpful in getting some insight
of his experience. viewtopic.php?f=1&t=4205
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Missing Hiker - SEKI - Gardiner Basin

Postby cgundersen » Wed Aug 20, 2014 1:39 pm

Hi everyone,
Mav, as usual, thanks for staying on top of this. I'll add a few comments and then another compact timeline that might help SAR to focus on specific locations.

1) When I got home last night there were 2 messages from rangers seeking information. I gave a trip timeline and pointed out that I'd seen footprints over Gardiner Pass on Thursday morning. Since the rains that lasted from early Monday morning until ~7-8am on Tuesday wiped the slate clean, these footprints had to have been made between Tuesday morning and Thursday morning. More on this below. The point here is that I took solace from the fact that the rangers had accessed my wilderness permit itinerary and were seeking input.
2) Aside from the south side of Gardiner Pass, water levels were good throughout Gardiner basin. If Greg is injured somewhere in the basin, but was able to reach water, he should be hanging in there.
3) I hiked up Gardiner Creek 35 years ago and at that time there was a use trail that made the going almost tolerable. From seeing the current state of the use trail in the upper basin, I have to assume that the use trail is all but non-existent. Thus, I concur with Mav's guess that a prime area to cover is lower Gardiner Creek.

Here are my inferences about where Greg may have gotten to based on the fact we did not see him, even though he should have been in the same canyon branch as we were for at least a period of time:

From Tuesday morning (~9am departure), when my hiking buddy and I passed down (from Lake 11407) through the main part of Gardiner Basin on our way into the branch that leads to Gardiner Pass, we did not see another hiker. However, I assume that Greg did not get over Gardiner Pass on his first day (Sunday). After all, it's a >>6,000 ft climb with much of it off trail. In this case, it also means that he got caught in the continuous storm blasts that persisted from ~3am on Monday till ~7am on Tuesday. It was a wild storm with plenty of lightning, and I doubt anyone would aim for a pass on a day like that. Tuesday morning's weather was somewhat dubious, but with intense tent fever, my buddy and I packed up, and descended along Gardiner Creek until we bottomed out at ~9,100 ft at which time we headed up the canyon branch that leads to Gardiner Pass. We continued to the little lake at ~10,080 ft and camped on the north side of the lake (far from where the meager remnants of the use trail run). We did not see or hear anyone on the entire ascent to this lake. However, because the use trail is hard to follow, we often just chose our own path. Thus, it's possible that Greg passed us without us spotting him. At the same time, it is pretty clear from Gardiner Pass that the further down the basin you go, the less inviting are the lakes in the canyon immediately beneath the pass. Thus, unless Greg was hell bent on fishing, he might have aimed for one of the higher lakes immediately below the pass. Another reason to do this is that the weather was threatening all day Tuesday, and if he did not want to risk getting stuck in another deluge, he might have pulled up early. We were certainly walking with one eye on the trail and the other on the skies. If Greg stayed at one of the lakes just below Gardiner Pass, we definitely would have missed him, because on Wednesday morning the weather broke clear and we headed directly up the hillside to the lake at ~10,800 ft (the penultimate, good-sized lake in this arm of the canyon). Because the use trail had been touch and go, it was much easier just carving our own path. But, if Greg had been camping at one of the pair of lakes almost directly below the pass (or, if we'd missed him the day before), our route ensured that we would miss him. Thus, it's my guess that he either passed by us as we were up-climbing on Tuesday, or we missed him Wednesday morning, because he was camped below the pass, and we circumvented the normal route.
Regardless, here's hoping the folks on the ground find him soon!
Cameron
Last edited by cgundersen on Wed Aug 20, 2014 3:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Missing Hiker - SEKI - Gardiner Basin

Postby maverick » Wed Aug 20, 2014 1:51 pm

Great Cameron, thank you for taking the time to include this additional
information!

Was PM-ing back and forth with SEKI PA yesterday, they will be checking
the boards for any relevant information, forward it to SAR, and update us
daily.

If anyone was at Charlotte Lake or hiking up or down Bubb's Creek August
10-17, and ran into Gregory (even if you did not talk to him), please
chime in or call the SEKI numbers listed above, it could help with developing
a timeline.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Missing Hiker - SEKI - Gardiner Basin

Postby maverick » Wed Aug 20, 2014 2:18 pm

Greg Muck is my brother in law. I'm trying to figure out what route he may have
taken to Gardiner Pass from Bubbs Creek. Has anyone ever taken the route
highlighted in red? Bubbs Creek to Glacier Monument to Gardiner Pass


After looking at his brother-in-laws post, I am wondering if he may have been
attempting to following this guys route: http://www.scaruffi.com/travel/gardiner.jpg
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Missing Hiker - SEKI - Gardiner Basin

Postby maverick » Wed Aug 20, 2014 2:29 pm

Meanstay,

- Do you have any more information on the intended route Greg was doing besides
the post one.

- What was he planning to do in Gardiner, any specific lakes of interest?

- Fishing was mentioned, is fishing a high priority to him?

- Does he like peak bagging?

- How many miles per day is he comfortable with, on trail and off?

- What level of difficulty is Greg comfortable with, class 2, 3, does he climb?

- Does you check all his maps, paper and on-line (Google Earth)?

- Did he mark or underline any pages in the High Sierra Peaks, Passes, and Trails
book that may have been useful on this trip? Have any sites or trip reports
bookmarked on the computer about Gardiner Basin.

- Does he carry rope?

- Does he have extra food?

- Any specific information like tent make, sleeping make & color, boot make,
backpack make & color? Did he carry a bear canister, which make, any decals?
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Missing Hiker - SEKI - Gardiner Basin

Postby schmalz » Wed Aug 20, 2014 3:09 pm

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Re: Missing Hiker - SEKI - Gardiner Basin

Postby oleander » Wed Aug 20, 2014 3:47 pm

Hi,

The flyer about his itinerary contains the words, "After several days..." And that suggests to me that he planned spending a few days exploring Gardiner Basin, before he headed down Gardiner Creek to Mist Falls. Gardiner Basin is the kind of place where you explore nooks and crannies - it's not the kind of place people want to just rush/march through.

...And where exactly in that big basin he would have been drawn, depends A LOT on what his skills and interests are. That is where his family, friends and hiking partners could help drawing up a profile. From that profile, some of us who've been in the area could venture guesses about where he might have tried to go, the places that most closely meet his interests and his skill level.

Piling onto Mav's questions:

How fast he likes to move - particularly, cross country - could tell us a lot about how many corners of Gardiner Basin he would have had time to explore. A slow or unacclimatized hiker, or someone who just likes to stop and smell the roses, might have only 1 layover day in Gardiner Basin if attempting that route in 7 days. A very fast and skilled hiker could make it into the basin in less than 1.5 days, layover up to 3-4 days and still make it out in his 7-day window. With 3-4 days at his disposal, he could have gotten pretty far up to the top of Gardiner Basin or plausibly even could have left the basin for a time (Sixty Lakes Col; Mt. Clarence King; etc.).

If he is into peak-bagging,

a) Is he only comfortable to Class 3? (and/or, he has climbed Class 4/5 but isn't carrying a rope, and wouldn't dare do any Class 4/5 without a rope?). There is a route from Gardiner Pass to Charlotte Dome, that is characterized as a Class 3. As someone who myself am attracted to fun Class 3 climbs, especially if I can leave my big pack somewhere and just take a daypack, I'd be personally really drawn to climbing such a famous dome. Particularly if I was already planning to go over Gardiner Pass anyway and I was "right there." Based on Cameron's comments about the weather, if Greg was drawn to Charlotte Dome, maybe he hunkered down in his tent for the Tuesday storm, and then tried for Charlotte Dome on Wednesday?

The other draw for a strictly Classes 1-3 peak bagger, is Mount Cotter, which is quite lovely from the middle/upper parts of Gardiner Basin. Class 2/3.

b) Is he into Class 4-5 stuff, and had rope and safety equipment with him? Maybe he tried to climb Mount Gardiner. Or even Mount Clarence King. (King Col is already worth looking into anyway, as Maverick pointed out in an earlier thread. It's the alternative way to get back down to Woods Creek.)

Is he into exploring different corners of lake basins? Is there evidence he knew about the lesser known passes in the basin? Gardiner Pass East - which is located on the northwest shoulder of Mt. Gardiner - would have been a logical route to get him from Gardiner Pass proper directly up to the uppermost basin, where Lake 3477 is. If I had 2+ days available to me in the basin, and was planning the loop he was (eventually descending out Gardiner Creek or even King Col), that is EXACTLY what I would have done. It just creates a logical "loop". However, if he had limited time to do his research, it's possible he may not have even learned about Gardiner Pass East.

He also could have tried to go over a col just to the NE of Gardiner Pass proper, which would have dropped him into one of the side basins, the one where Lake 3223 is. That latter col: I don't even know if it's passable, but Cameron here was just standing on it recently, so maybe he can comment. On the topo map the top of that col looks pretty steep, maybe impassable.

I was just in (upper) Gardiner Basin two weeks ago, August 3-5. My timing didn't overlap with Greg's so I'm sorry I can't be of any direct help. But my impressions of that landscape are still very fresh, so wanted to share my thoughts about what features in this landscape could be the biggest draw for an explorer or peak-bagger.

- Elizabeth
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