Missing Yosemite hiker's body found

05/07/2013 2:16 PM

05/07/2013 2:28 PM

Rangers found the body of a hiker from Minnesota who went missing at Yosemite National Park during the weekend, authorities reported this afternoon.

According to the National Park Service, rangers recovered the body of Kenneth Stensby near the base of Vernal Fall on Tuesday after searchers spotted it Monday evening. He apparently fell from a cliff near the waterfall.

Stensby, 73, had been in the park for several days, staying at the Ahwahnee Hotel. Each day, as he set out on a hike, he would leave a note with staff outlining his plan.

On Sunday, the park service said in a news release, Stensby planned to hike to the top of Vernal Fall via the Mist Trail and return to the hotel around noon. At 5 p.m., staff tried to contact Stensby and then notified rangers when they could not reach him.

Rangers discovered Stensby's backpack near the guardrail at the top of Vernal Fall later that evening, and put out an appeal for anyone who might have seen him or taken photographs with Stensby in them. On Monday, the park conducted a full-scale search-and-rescue operation, including several ground teams, a dog team and a California Highway Patrol helicopter. Intermittent rain made the search difficult, but searchers in the CHP helicopter spotted Stensby’s body around 6 p.m. The Mist Trail, closed during the search operation, has been reopened.

The three-mile round-trip hike to Vernal Fall is among the park's most popular. Although this was a drier winter than usual, the falls are running strong this week, Yosemite spokesman Scott Gediman said.

The waterfall was the site of tragedy in July 2011, when three hikers from the Central Valley lost their lives. Ramina Badal, 21, of Manteca, Ninos Yacoub, 27, of Turlock and Hormiz "Nenos" David, 22, of Modesto were visiting the park on a day trip when they fell into the Merced River above Vernal Fall. All three went over the 317-foot waterfall.

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