An intensive three-day search ended Wednesday, Aug. 20, when searchers on the ground in Kings Canyon National Park found the body of Gregory Muck. Muck, 46, of Santa Cruz was reported missing when his wife called parks dispatch at 8 a.m. on August 18.
Muck departed from Roads End in Cedar Grove on Sunday, Aug. 10. He had planned to hike to Gardiner Basin via Gardiner Pass. After camping several days in the basin, Muck’s itinerary consisted of a hike back to Roads End via Gardiner Creek and the Woods Creek Trail.
Apparently, Muck never reached his intended exit route. It appears he had fallen in rocky, steep terrain northwest of Mount Gardiner.
It was not immediately known when Muck fell or the circumstances surrounding his death. The cause of death is currently under investigation by the Fresno County Coroner’s Office.
Mount Gardiner is located in an area near the center of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks and is designated one of the 33 “Mountaineer Peaks.” The climbing designation and the fact that it is the highest peak bounded by the Rae Lakes Loop ranks the peak among the most popular backpacking and peakbaggers’ destination in the local national parks.
While recreational deaths at Grand Canyon National Park this season have soared and are on a record-setting pace, accidental deaths and search-and-rescue incidents in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks typically average 70 annual incidents and so far the statistics for 2014 indicate business as usual.