Today’s weather (October 16, 2020) has deteriorated, with lowering clouds and winds up to 50 MPH that prevented air operations. Teams also experienced low visibility and driving rain. Ten NPS rangers were joined by nine Mountain Rescue volunteers and two teams from Washington German Shepherd Search Dogs. Members of the Washington State Search and Rescue Planning Unit have provided assistance throughout the week as well. NPS trail crews, meanwhile, worked throughout the day to restore a trail bridge over the lower Carbon River, which washed out in heavy rain early in the week, in order to allow searchers easier access to search zones in that area.
Searchers intend to take full advantage, tomorrow, of a final day of good weather before another storm forecast for Sunday, with large numbers of people on the ground and hopefully in the air as well.
The primary search area has been defined by the 17-mile Mother Mountain Loop trail, with teams increasingly branching off to explore spur trails leading higher on Mount Rainier and river drainages leading off it. The terrain includes rugged, remote wilderness, with dense forests at elevations from 2,000 to 5,000 feet and exposed subalpine meadows blanketed with fresh autumn snowfall above it. Rangers are coordinating the search with the Washington State Emergency Operations Center and other state and local resources, who are providing highly skilled rescuers trained to search in hazardous conditions and poor weather.
The National Park Service encourages hikers to carry the “10 Essentials,” hike with a partner, and leave a detailed itinerary with family or friends. River crossings can be dangerous or impassible this time of year, and bridges may be washed out without notice. Contact a park Wilderness Information Center and visit the park’s website, www.nps.gov/mora, for more information about hiking safety in Mount Rainier National Park.