Weekly newspaper of Three Rivers, California, and Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks

Bob Woodie’s son, Robert, at Barrett Lakes last October during the search for his father who went missing when several storms passed over the Sierra Nevada region.

Bob Woodie leaves High Sierra legacy

Backpacker was caught in early-season storm
Sarah Elliott


Nine months after Robert Woodie of Manhattan Beach went missing during a four-day fishing trip in a remote area of the Sierra, his body was discovered by hikers just off a trail. The 74-year-old husband, father, and grandfather died of hypothermia as a series of winter-like storms passed through the region.
Bob Woodie was reported missing by his family after failing to return from a backpacking trip that originated at the South Lake trailhead on the east side of the Sierra. He headed west into the mountains on the Bishop Pass trail. His remains and belongings were discovered by hikers about 300 feet off that same trail. 
“Sadly, he was much closer than expected to the relative safety of the trail, but it appeared he lost the battle against the ferocious winds recorded that day,” wrote his son, Robert Woodie. “The search-and-rescue experts feel he likely needed to stop to shelter against extreme gusts and was unable to maintain his body temperature. His position behind the protection of a group of boulders would have been quickly covered with wind-blown snow and explains why the army of searchers and helicopters were unable to spot him or his tracks.”
After seeing his father’s recovered equipment, his son said that he was a victim of bad weather as much as poor preparation. 
“Pops was found sheltering from fierce winds; some recorded as much as 100 miles per hour that day,” said Robert, who is an experienced outdoorsman. “His backpack was still on and the hastily packed contents suggested he was making a run for the trailhead. This tells me he didn’t have confidence in his gear or supplies to shelter until the storm passed, which typically happens within 24 hours in October. Most frustrating for me was that Pops was wearing cotton jeans, and among his top layers were a cotton tee shirt and a cotton sweatshirt. For those who don’t know, cotton in the backcountry is a very poor choice as it is slow drying, heavy, and loses all insulating qualities when wet.”
Bob Woodie is survived by his wife, Joanne, two of three sons, and five grandchildren. The family is currently raising $100,000 for a Bob Woodie Memorial Endowment with the Sierra Club Foundation, which will be used to connect children with the wilderness, a passion of Bob’s throughout his life. Contributions made through September will be matched by two anonymous donors.
“The eastern Sierra backcountry was [Bob’s] church, and he worshiped at the altar of its trout fishing,” his son, Robert, wrote. 
To make a donation to the Bob Woodie Memorial Endowment, go to http://sierraclub.org/bobwoodiememorial.
For a previous article on this subject, go here.