Search underway for missing backpacker


Gregory Hein, 33, of Clovis, remains the subject of an intensive interagency search in the Fresno County backcountry east of Florence Lake. Hein, reportedly an experienced backpacker, planned to embark on a solo trip to Mount Goddard in Kings Canyon National Park after parking his car near the Florence Lake Store on Thursday, July 3.

Hein told family members that he planned to hike to Mt. Goddard and return on Monday, July 7. Fresno County authorities were notified on Wednesday, July 9, that the hiker had not returned. 

A Fresno County search-and-rescue unit and a helicopter began searching for Hein on Wednesday afternoon.

Hein’s gray Honda Civic was located in a parking lot near the Florence Lake Store. There was no record that Hein had taken the ferry to the trailhead or had stayed in any of the Florence Lake campgrounds. On Thursday, Kings Canyon National Park SAR personnel joined in the search.      

Mt. Goddard, at 13,563 feet, is situated in a remote part of Kings Canyon National Park. It forms the southwest boundary of the Evolution Basin and is surrounded on three sides by the John Muir Wilderness. It is a popular destination for experienced backpackers and peak baggers.

Generally considered a two-day hike from Florence Lake, a trip to the summit is accessible with some Class 3 scrambling. From its summit, there is a view of several of California’s most imposing “Fourteeners,” peaks that are higher than 14,000 feet.

The area surrounding Mount Goddard is wild, remote, and high; approximately 11,000 to 12,000 feet in elevation. Several lakes are located in the vicinity that provide good backcountry campsites. 

Although Mount Goddard can be reached by the John Muir Trail, much of the immediate area is trail-less. The north side of the mountain contains several small glaciers. Talus covers much of the mountain.

Hein, a white male, is 6’2”, 165 pounds, and may have been carrying a black backpack with yellow trim. Anyone with information about Hein or his whereabouts should call the Fresno County Sheriff’s Department at (559) 600-3111. 

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