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Mount Rainer writer, hiker vanishes: Karen Sykes joins other missing hikers list

Those who are familiar intimately with missing writer Karen Sykes believe that she probably didn't meet with foul play when she went missing while at Mount Rainer on a hike this week. They think she is just possibly hurt and unable to make her way back from the mountain.

On June 21 Fox News gave an update on the missing writer case, citing friends as saying Sykes was on the mountain covering a story and that while they are anxious about her being missing, they believe she has the "know how" to survive, even if hurt, if not fatally wounded.

The story the Seattle-based writer was working on has not been detailed to the press, but it could pertain to the six hiker deaths that preceded her trip by mere weeks, in which six people were believed to have fallen to their own deaths while seeking to climb a steep summit on the mountain.

Writers have been known to go to great lengths to get a story--or to cover one that they feel has an angle not previously shared with the public, especially if they receive a tip or uncover new information about the event. In Sykes' case, she has been asked to write an outdoors hiking feature in the past for Greg Johnston of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, according to Fox, so maybe someone had hired her to do a follow-up on the hikers who recently fell to their deaths.

But mountain terrain can be especially tricky to navigate even by the most experienced hikers, despite familiarity and long-term experience with a particular mountain, so few take such excursions for granted. Case in point is that when Karen Sykes set off on this trip, she did not go it alone, climbing with a partner at the time. Unfortunately, once at the 5,000-feet altitude--when the two encountered snow, she is said to have chosen to climb ahead of her partner and has not been seen since that time.

Abisha "Abe" Mounce, 38, an Atlanta hiker who went missing four years ago when he set off on his own towards the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in Colorado, was eventually believed to have been found in May 2011, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Another hiker is said to have come across his alleged skeletal remains, which were surrounded by items that fit the list of things belonging to Mounce, including his Georgia driver's license. DNA testing was to be conducted to determine if the man who suddenly quit his computer job had died alone in Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

Some hikers, unfortunately, are never found at all after they are alleged to have begun their mountain climbs alone. One example is Colorado female hiker Aubrey Sacco, who went missing on a solo trip to Langtang National Park in Nepal in April 2010.

In August 2013 the Denver Channel announced that three men had finally been arrested in her disappearance. But by March 2014 Backpacker magazine was reporting that the three suspects were released after spending 28 days in custody, since police have no physical evidence to support holding them, even though they confessed to murdering the young American and disposing of her body by throwing it into a river.

The Seattle Times reported on June 20 that the 70-year-old Sykes was known to go on 13-mile runs before she hiked with Bob Morthorst up Mount Rainer on Wednesday, where they planned to complete a one-day hike up the Owyhigh Lakes Trail for a story she was researching. But when they encountered snow, Bob sat down to eat his lunch and she decided to push on up the trail, promising to return in an hour, so they could go back down the mountain. But she never did. And a helicopter search and foot searches are being conducted Friday and Saturday in an effort to locate her.

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