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

Bob Woodie.

Hiker's body found

By: 
Sarah Elliott

 

A body discovered last week by some Pacific Crest Trail hikers has been identified as Robert Woodie, 74, who went missing in the area last October after inclement weather. Woodie, an experienced backpacker who was familiar with the terrain, was on a four-day, solo, backcountry fishing trip when he disappeared.
 
The Manhattan Beach resident started his trip on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016, from South Lake on the east side of the Sierra, with plans to return Sunday, Oct. 16. Over 130 people worked on a multi-agency search-and-rescue operation that began October 18 after he was reported missing by his family. Woodie’s two adult sons also headed into the backcountry to search for their father.
 
His son, Robert Woodie, reported later, “We can now safely assume that Pops was done fishing, had packed up his camp, and was on his way back to his car when he disappeared. It will mean that the search can focus on the most likely route back to the South Lake trailhead. As the search drags on it will also bring comfort to know that Pops had been able to catch his share of big fish and drink in his fill of this grand landscape before disappearing.”
 
Bob Woodie’s remains were found Thursday, July 6, about 300 feet off the Bishop Pass trail on a talus slope. Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks provided the aerial support to remove and assist in the transport the body to the Inyo County Coroner.
 
The last communication from Woodie was a check-in message via satellite device, which placed him at Barrett Lakes on Saturday, Oct. 15, an off-trail locale.
 
“The Barrett Lakes sit in the Palisade Basin and with each step I am in awe of this place’s splendor,” wrote his son. “I have backpacked so many times in the Eastern Sierras I now realize that I have come to take its beauty for granted. In recent years, I have dragged Pops to Yosemite, Glacier, the Grand Canyon, and Yellowstone. But in that time I never made it with Pops to Barrett Lakes. I see now that his regular spot has a beauty to rival its big-name competition. With each step I regret never sharing this area and its fishing with him.” 
 
On the night of October 15, wind and snow moved through the region at elevations above 10,500 feet. Another storm impacted the area a few days later, stopping the ground search due to low visibility, snow, and freezing temperatures. By the end of October, both aerial patrols and ground searchers left the area due to the weather and lack of clues as to Woodie’s whereabouts. These storms were just the beginning of what would be a record snow year for the Sierra Nevada region.
 
In an article published online in November, son Robert wrote a poignant piece that shared memories of his father as well as his experiences while “Searching for Pops,” as the article is entitled.
 
“It is difficult to explain the power of this simple man I call Pops. I never heard him say a mean thing about anybody or anything. The closest he ever came to criticizing someone was to marvel at how people didn’t want to learn how to fix things around the house. He was the type of man that would immediately help you with what you were doing without being asked. I had him help me with several home fix-up projects over the years and we made a good team.” 
 
The Inyo County Coroner has determined that Woodie’s cause of death was hypothermia.
 
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