SANTA CRUZ -- The Kings National Park search for a 46-year-old Santa Cruz hiker and Fremont elementary school teacher was suspended temporarily Wednesday after park officials located a body near Mount Gardiner in Kings Canyon National Park.
Officials believe the body may be that of Gregory Muck, who was due to return home to his wife and 5-year-old daughter Sunday. Definitive identification of the body, however, had not been made Wednesday, as park staff worked to recover the body.
Searchers discovered the body at 12,000 feet elevation northwest of Mount Gardiner in Kings Canyon National Park Wednesday afternoon, said Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Public Affairs Specialist Dana Dierkes. A key factor in suspending the search was that the body was found within the same 4-by-5-mile search area outlined for Muck, she said.
"We won't know more until we recover the body," Dierkes said.
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks officials were working Wednesday evening with Yosemite National Park staff to recover the body, located high in difficult to access, steep and rugged wilderness with no roads, Dierkes said.
Muck had left on a solo weeklong trip for the park Aug. 10. Muck's wife, Shannon Muck, said Tuesday that her husband is an experienced hiker of 19 years who she could only remember returning home late on one other occasion.
Monday morning, when Muck still had not returned, his wife reported his absence to the national park's dispatch and the search began. By Tuesday, the search had grown to 55 people looking for Muck by both land and helicopter and conducting interviews with the public.
The California Highway Patrol and the Yosemite Search and Rescue and its canine search and rescue team had joined the search for Muck as well.
Muck had most recently taught at Gomes Elementary School, but was set to teach at James Leitch Elementary School when classes start on Aug. 27.