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Searches continue for Sierra Nevada hikers

October 27, 2012 |  5:08 pm

Search teams are looking for two hikers in separate areas of California’s Sierra Nevada wilderness.

Crews on the ground and in three Air National Guard helicopters searched Saturday for Larry Conn, 53, who was almost a week overdue from a three-day backpacking trip in Inyo National Forest.

Conn, from Pacific Palisades, went into the forest Oct. 19 and was expected to come out Monday, said Dana Dierkes, a spokeswoman for the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park. He had planned to travel over Taboose Pass toward the John Muir Trail, a trek that Dierkes described as “strenuous,” requiring a climb of more than 6,000 feet into snow-covered wilderness.

“When people are going into the wilderness, it’s a good idea to give someone a trip itinerary, and that’s what he did,” Dierkes said. “It’s very, very rugged up there. The area being searched is between 8,000 and 13,000 feet.”

Daytime temperatures are in the 30s as ground crews hike through snow up to 18 inches deep, with icy conditions, she said. “We’re just starting the winter storm period,” Dierkes said. “Even though it doesn’t feel like it in L.A. and the Central Valley, in the high Sierra it’s pretty cold.”

A second search was underway near Shaver Lake for Matthew Hansen, 52, of Visalia, who hasn’t returned from a backpacking trip. Fresno County sheriff’s Lt. Bob Miller told the Associated Press that the search for Hansen was taking place in a mountainous area blanketed by about a foot of snow.

Hansen is described as an avid backpacker who went into the wilderness prepared with food and clothing. “We have an idea of the path he would have traveled to get from where we found his vehicle and from where he said he was going to go,” Miller said.

Just to the north, in the Desolation Wilderness area southwest of Lake Tahoe, search crews found another hiker who had gone missing last week. Nathan Sperring, 29, was found Thursday afternoon in good condition in his tent, El Dorado County sheriff's Lt. Tim Becker told the AP.

Sperring had been reported overdue from a hike Tuesday. He had spent six days in the wilderness, two days longer than expected, as he waited out a passing storm, Becker said.

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-- Hector Becerra

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