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Search for missing hiker in North Cascades resumes this holiday weekend

Tom Simonseth of Mount Vernon has been missing since May 22 when he went hiking up the Hidden Lake Lake Lookout trail east of Marblemount.

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. — The search for a missing hiker in the North Cascades will resume Saturday with search crews looking for him on the ground and from the air.

Tom Simonseth, 66, of Mount Vernon, has been missing since May 22, when he went hiking up the Hidden Lake Lookout trail east of Marblemount in the North Cascades. 

"Tom has been very athletic his entire life," said Mike Woodmansee, one of Simonseth's hiking friends.

Woodmansee, and their friend Mark Nelson, grew up together in Mount Vernon. Woodmansee said Simonseth took up hiking after retiring from a teaching career.

They took on the Hidden Lake Lookout trail in October, but in winter and spring the trail can become more dangerous with snow cover.

Credit: Mike Woodmansee
Tom Simonseth, left, and his friend Mike Woodmansee (right) hiking.

Woodmansee said Simonseth tried the same trail this spring but did not pursue it because of the snow. When Simonseth tried the trail again on May 22, Woodmansee suspects he followed footprints in the snow as he went up the trail.

"At some point he realized, he should stop and come down. Of course, the question on a search is, where did that choice get made and what route did he choose?" Woodmansee said.

Rose Simonseth said she began to worry when she did not hear from her husband that Saturday. "I was cooking dinner for him, for us, and at 6:30, I realized he hadn't called me like he said he would when he's off the mountain," Rose said.

She called Woodmansee and later that evening, they contacted the Skagit County Sheriff's Office.

Search and rescue teams have been on an ongoing search since May 23 and will continue through this Sunday. The sheriff's office said rescue teams from as far away as Spokane are also assisting with the search.

The sheriff's office said the public should not try to help with the search, as conditions on the trail could be potentially dangerous.

Woodmansee, an experienced hiker who volunteers with search and rescue, advised hikers heading to the mountains this Memorial Day weekend to not hike alone and if they do, carry a location device with them.

By now, Simonseth's vehicle, which was parked at the trailhead, was towed back to his home in Mount Vernon. His wife and friends believe he will come home too.

"Tom's tough. If anybody can do it, he can," Woodmansee said.