New Jersey hiker missing in Washington state

Kate Huether, 24, of New Jersey

March 10, 2010 10:05:18 PM PST
Another day of searching is over and there is still no sign of Kate Huether. Huether is studying to be a forest ranger, and her family says she thought nothing of going for a hike alone in a densely-wooded area near Portland.

"Kate's our daughter and we just hope she comes back," her dad, Robert Huether, said in a tearful plea from Washington state.

His 24-year old daughter is the focus of an intense search in the state.

Dozens of professionals and volunteers are venturing into the woods near the Bonneville Dam, along a trail where Huether went hiking last Thursday.

"We're still holding out hope that she'll come back alive, we can hold her again and tell her we love her," Robert Huether said.

Kate Huether was an experienced hiker. She moved to Portland from her hometown of Somerset, New Jersey to study environmental science and to pursue he dream of becoming a forest ranger.

Last Thursday, she went for a hike alone, leaving her dog at home and her cell phone in her car. She hasn't been heard from since.

"If anyone can survive 6 days in the outdoors it's Kate Huether," her aunt, Joan Seamon, said.

Three thousand miles away from the search for their niece, Kate's aunts are praying for a phone call with good news from the scene.

Helicopters are searching the treacherous terrain and Kate's friends and relatives have flown out to join search parties.

"They're our only hope right now for them to find her and bring her home," Peggy Sklios said.

Washington authorities do not suspect foul play.

The weather in this area of Washington state had been fairly mild until Tuesday, when rain and ice slowed the desperate search.