A team of rescuers braved treacherous, snowy conditions to reach a remote cabin in Washington on Tuesday in hopes of finding a missing hiker there, but the woman was nowhere to be found, according to local authorities.
Rachel Lakoduk has been missing since going hiking Oct. 17 near Marblemount, Washington, and rescuers and her family thought she might have taken shelter inside a lookout tower at the Hidden Lake Lookout “when weather conditions turned snowy,” the Skagit Search and Rescue Council said in a Facebook post.
“Search crews reached the cabin at Hidden Lake and the missing hiker was not located. The search crew is actively searching for her on their way down off the mountain,” Skagit County Undersheriff Chad Clark said in an update Tuesday afternoon, adding that the search will resume Wednesday.
Lakoduk’s family “is now presuming that she is dead,” KHQ reported.
“Minutes ago we learned that our sweet Rachel never arrived at the outlook tower,” her mother, Elizabeth Tripp, wrote in a Facebook post. “There’ll be a dog & personnel search for her tomorrow to look for her body. We are shocked beyond belief, appreciate everyone’s prayers, and now please allow us patience & understanding as we process through this difficult time.”
The National Park Service called the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office on Oct. 18 to help find Lakoduk, a 28-year-old from Moses Lake, Clark said in an update on the search Tuesday morning.
“Deputies located the hiker’s vehicle at the trailhead to Hidden Lake,” Clark said, adding that the missing hiker only planned to stay the night at the cabin and was expected to return on Oct. 18 around 2 p.m.
The beginning of the trail is roughly 15 miles east of Marblemount, KREM reports.
A search and rescue team tried to make its way up the trail to the cabin the morning of Oct. 19, but had to give up after reaching an elevation of around 6,000 feet because of “safety concerns as the weather was extreme and the avalanche danger was also high,” the Sheriff’s Office said.
The cabin is perched in the North Cascades at 6,800 feet, deputies said.
Another rescue attempt on Oct. 20 nearly reached the cabin — making it as close as a few hundred yards — before having to turn around because of the treacherous conditions, deputies said.
KOMO reported that “other hikers reported seeing Lakoduk on the trail, which rescuers said is now covered in 2 to 6 feet of snow.”
Tripp said her daughter “hiked in on Thursday and we’ve had no communication since,” according to the Herald.
Haley Anderson, Lakoduk’s sister, said she believed her sister had a sleeping bag, water and food, according to KOMO.