Update: West Seattleite Karen Sykes missing on Mount Rainier

10:27 AM: A photographer and writer from West Seattle is missing on Mount Rainier. If you don’t know Karen Sykes in person or by name, you might know her by her Flickr handle, under which we have run dozens of her photos here on WSB – old desolate.” Her friend Don Geyer e-mailed to say that today is the second day of a search-and-rescue operation for Karen; he says she “was separated from her hiking partner while hiking to Owyhigh Lakes on Wednesday.” According to Don, King County Search and Rescue, “along with other agencies, had 35 SAR personnel searching for her, with the help of dogs and two helicopters. (More search info is in this Tacoma News-Tribune report.) They resumed the search this morning at 8:00 am.” Karen is an experienced hiker who has written books including “Hidden Hikes of Western Washington” and also wrote a weekly hiking column for the Seattle P-I; this June 2004 column was about the area where she is being sought.

3:55 PM: The News-Tribune reports that searchers are still at work but are under orders to stop for the night by 9:30 pm.

SATURDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE: Searchers are out again today, report our partners at The Seattle Times.

31 Replies to "Update: West Seattleite Karen Sykes missing on Mount Rainier"

  • Greg June 20, 2014 (11:40 am)

    When I first moved to Seattle, I chose all my hikes from Karen’s weekly column in the PI. I hope she’s OK.

  • sam-c June 20, 2014 (11:46 am)

    oh goodness, I hope everything turns out ok. I’ll keep thinking positive thoughts.

    (I don’t know her, but I have seen her photos here on WSB)

  • Lauri June 20, 2014 (12:29 pm)

    I don’t know her but do admire her photos. Will be thinking good thoughts too.

  • miws June 20, 2014 (12:35 pm)

    Sending out positive thoughts that Karen is found safe.


    I don’t know her either, but appreciated her pics, and like her Handle of “Old Desolate”



  • lox June 20, 2014 (12:38 pm)

    Oh man, this is sad news. Especially someone so experienced. I pray they find her safe and sound today!

  • West Seattle since 1979 June 20, 2014 (1:49 pm)

    Oh no, hope she is ok.

  • westseattledood June 20, 2014 (2:06 pm)

    hope she is found safe and sound. i enjoy her sweet little observant photos.

    i don’t know her but have been reading her so long…

  • biankat June 20, 2014 (2:39 pm)

    I really enjoy her photos. Hopeful she’ll be found safe and sound soon.

  • Annette Shirey June 20, 2014 (6:11 pm)

    This is my mother. I’m preparing to travel to Seattle. I’m very concerned to say the least.

  • JayDee June 20, 2014 (6:27 pm)

    I wish the best for her — at least the weather is temperate and mild as it can be for the search.

  • Jason June 20, 2014 (7:58 pm)

    Hope she’s safe and coming home soon, thoughts are with you all Annette.

  • Mike June 20, 2014 (9:03 pm)

    hopefully she finds people or they find her soon, her experience will be a big help in a time like this.

  • David June 20, 2014 (10:28 pm)

    Hope and prayers that she gets out alive.

  • Enviromaven June 21, 2014 (12:00 am)

    Keeping Ms. Sykes and her family in our thoughts and prayers and envisioning a safe and happy ending to this situation.

  • Anne June 21, 2014 (6:16 am)

    Oh dear. I enjoyed reading her columns in the PI so much. I hope she is found soon.

  • Bill and Teri June 21, 2014 (1:22 pm)

    Annette, Bill is your Mom’s cousin in CA and we are looking for info on Karen. Your aunt Gwen phoned last night with the news she was missing. You and she are in our hearts.

  • alison June 21, 2014 (1:37 pm)

    nwhikers.net has an ongoing thread about this in their “trail talk” forum. People their often get news before the major news outlets.

    • WSB June 21, 2014 (1:45 pm)

      Thanks, Alison, I’ve been following that since yesterday. I should link it here.

  • Madeline Hoover June 21, 2014 (5:13 pm)

    Search has been suspended as of 3:30 p.m. Saturday. No other details released.

  • Maddy June 21, 2014 (5:15 pm)

    Search has been suspended as of 3:30 p.m. Saturday. No other details have been released.

  • Maddy June 21, 2014 (5:19 pm)

    According to nwhikers.net: Karen’s daughter, Annette, posted on her FB page that Karen was found dead.

    • WSB June 21, 2014 (5:26 pm)

      I just read that. Looking for the page.

  • westseattledood June 21, 2014 (5:44 pm)

    Oh no.

    Godspeed to her family and friends.

    Her earlier works inspired and instructed so many of us back in the day on getting out and experiencing and protecting our beautiful mountains and trails.

    A good life’s work. Thank you Karen Sykes.

  • Ann Onymous June 21, 2014 (8:32 pm)

    I was hoping for a miracle. My condolences to Karen’s family, friends, and fellow hikers.

  • Ken Dalby June 21, 2014 (10:03 pm)

    My good cousin and my lifetime comrade.I will miss her.

  • Annette Shirey June 22, 2014 (6:38 am)

    My mother’s body was recovered yesterday in Mt Rainier National Forest. I am her only child. My name is Annette Shirey. I woke up early this morning to realize this is the first day of my life I will never talk to or hear from my mother again. I am heart broken. I am travelling to Seattle from Tucson. I don’t know yet if the cause of her death is from a fall or hypothermia. I miss her so much!!

    • WSB June 22, 2014 (9:04 am)

      Annette, please accept our condolences. I only knew your mom through correspondence, when she offered photos for us to use, or shared them to our Flickr group, and we published more than 40 of them, beautiful photos of nature here in West Seattle. The address for her account included the phrase “Karen’s Eyes” and we will miss the view of the natural world she shared through them – Tracy

  • robp June 22, 2014 (8:18 am)

    Such a tremendous loss. Condolences to her many friends and family.

  • sophista-tiki June 22, 2014 (10:32 am)

    so sorry to hear this news.

  • Vanessa June 23, 2014 (1:52 pm)

    Dear Annette, our hearts break with yours.
    We are so sorry to hear this news.

  • Laurence Tryon June 23, 2014 (4:11 pm)

    Annette I am so sorry for your loss. Seattle is a sadder place without her in it. Big Hugs to you and to Bob.

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