Pacific Crest Trail Claims Two More Lives

Spencer Miller |
Lake Aloha Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) marker on July 8, 2017. Photo credit: Shannon Maguire, USFS

The bodies of Rika Morita and Chaocui Wang have been located in respective water flows along the Pacific Crest Trail, only seven days apart, according to the Pacific Crest Trail Association.  Morita, visiting from Japan to solo-hike the trail, was found in the South Fork of the Kings River.  Wang was from China, and perished alone in Rancheria Creek in Kerrick Canyon, farther downstream from where the creek meets the path.

4 people have died on the Pacific Crest Trail this year, 3 since late May.

Chaocui Wang.  Photo courtesy of PCTA.

These names go on a long list of unfortunate trail-related accidents.  This year, the deep snowpack has posed countless dangers, including avalanches, heavier river flows, and slower travel times.  Jack Haskel, the information manager of the PCT, released a statement about the last two deaths and this season:

We don’t know the specifics of the latest tragedies and won’t speculate. But know this. If you are out there and faced with a dangerous situation, it’s ok to turn back. It’s about the journey, not the destination. It’s ok to stop what you are doing and find a safe place to wait out weather or conditions or simply get yourself to town. This will ensure that you’ll be able to hike another day.”

An increase in hikers, combined with the dangerous conditions, has made for a busy season for rescuers on the trail.  If you are going to attempt one of these grueling journeys, please adequately prepare, and a partner is always recommended.

Photo of Rika

Two other hikers have died on the Pacific Crest Trail this year.

In the end of May, Marvin Novo, 58, from Turlock CA, died hiking near Whitewater Preserve.  It’s suspected his death was heat related.  He was a through-hiker.

A PCT hiker died after a fall on ice near Islip Saddle in the Angeles National Forest, CA.

Marvin Novo. Photo:

Record snowpack and a record number of PCT hikers had made for a crazy season with many rescues and 4 deaths already.

There have been countless avalanches and other close calls on the PCT this year.

“In late May, thru-hiker and experienced mountaineer Brien Bower, a 25-year-old volcano climbing guide from Seattle, was walking near snowbound Glen Pass when he started checking for avalanche conditions. Suddenly, a large shelf of snow gave way and started sliding down, with Bower still standing on it. ” – Outside Magazine, June 16th, 2017


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