October 2, 2011: The National Park Service has announced the completion of search and rescue operations for missing backpacker John Williams, 67, of Bishop, Calif. According to a press release dated October 2, 2011, Williams hiked out of the wilderness on his own during the evening of October 1. The backpacker was in good health and had adequate food to complete his extended trip.
Search and rescue operations had begun for Williams on September 27, when the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office received notice that Williams had not returned from a trip that had started on September 17 at the Bishop Pass trailhead. NPS joined the search operation on September 30, and the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office began aerial searches yesterday. Williams had intended to exit the wilderness on September 23 but was prepared for the possibility of few extra days of travel.
Park Ranger Brad Ferlinger, a lead investigator in the search and rescue operation, provided a detailed itinerary for Williams from wilderness permit information on record. The backpacker had intended to enter and exit the wilderness at the same trailhead, Bishop Pass, and cover a considerable distance spanning Kings Canyon National Park before turning north, hiking off trail, and returning to the trailhead via the John Muir Trail.
According to the itinerary released by Ferlinger, Williams intended to camp in Dusty Basin on the first night and then head south on the John Muir Trail, crossing Palisade Creek and continuing along the Middle Fork of the Kings River. Staying on trail, Williams planned to hike through Tehipite Valley and then turn north into Blue Canyon. Leaving the trail and continuing north, Williams was planning to exit Blue Canyon via Reinstein Pass and return to the trail in the vicinity of Martha Lake. Traversing Goddard Canyon, Williams expected to return to the John Muir Trail through Evolution Lake and continue south, back to Dusty Basin and out of the wilderness over Bishop Pass.
In addition to the Inyo County Sheriff’s Ofice, NPS and the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office, personnel from the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office, Kern County Sheriff’s Office (China Lake Rescue Unit), San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office (Bay Area Mountain Rescue Unit), Inyo National Forest and the California Rescue Dog Association took part in the search effort.
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks news release
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