Pacific Crest Trail hikers in trouble after early snow

STEVENSON — Three hikers who have walked all the way from Mexico on the Pacific Coast Trail are in trouble after hitting snow in southwest Washington, the Skamania County sheriff’s office said.

The sheriff’s office has two search and rescue operations underway for the three trail hikers who needed help Monday, plus another continuing search for a Portland hiker who has been missing since Saturday.

Searchers have cellphone contact with Matt Margiotta and Kyla Arnold who called Monday saying they were in snow and needed help. Six ground searchers have the GPS location and expect to reach the pair later Tuesday, said Undersheriff Dave Cox.

Searchers think Alejandre Wilson might be along the same stretch of trail. She was reported overdue Monday by her father who last talked to her Friday as she was leaving Trout Lake for White Pass.

Margiotta and Arnold saw Wilson at Trout Lake, Cox said, and she might be a day’s hike or about 20 miles north of them. Searchers from Lewis County are headed south down the trail, hoping to run into her, Cox said.

And the search continues for the Kristopher Zitzewitz, 31, of Portland who became separated Saturday from his partner in the Big Lava Beds area of Gifford Pinchot National Forest. There are 41 ground searchers with four dogs involved in the search based at Goose Lake campground.

Snow fell in the Washington mountains in a weekend storm and it was likely the first snow to fall on Pacific Crest Trail hikers as they try to complete their hike to Canada this year, Cox said.

Once snow covers the trail, it’s hard to follow and hikers can easily get lost, he said. Searchers have encountered two other hikers on the trail and persuaded them to turn around.

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