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1 of 2 hikers missing in Sierra Nevada found safe

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – One of two hikers missing in California’s Sierra Nevada was found safe Monday as crews searched for a second hiker, authorities said.

Matthew Hanson was found after a California Highway Patrol helicopter crew spotted shoe tracks in the snow, Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims said. As the helicopter followed the tracks, Hanson walked out to the open so he could be seen by the crew.

He appeared to be in relatively good condition, Mims said.

Rescue teams had been looking for Hanson, 52, of Visalia, after he left on a backpacking trip on Oct. 16 and had failed to return on Thursday as expected. He was found near Cathedral Lake, an alpine lake at an elevation of nearly 11,000 feet, about 80 miles northeast of Fresno.

Meanwhile, the search continued for a Southern California man also missing in the Sierra.

Larry Conn, 53, of Pacific Palisades, left on what was supposed to be a three-day backpacking trip in Inyo National Forest on Oct. 19, but never emerged from the wilderness.

Ground teams and search dogs spent another day struggling through deep snow and across icy trails in the eastern Sierra, but found no sign of Conn, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks spokeswoman Dana Dierkes said.

Besides the snow and ice, crews were working in elevations of up to 13,000 feet, forcing them to battle the effects of altitude sickness, Dierkes said.

“One of the things that is so challenging is the altitude,” Dierkes said. “Altitude sickness is something even the searchers have to deal with.”

Finding any tracks left by Conn was made difficult by the swing in temperatures.

“The next morning it’s extremely icy, then we have slush during the afternoon,” Dierkes said.

“It makes it difficult to search the area and masks the prints,” she said. “If you’re looking for footprints, they don’t look the same the next morning.”

Conn had started his hike at a trailhead in the Inyo National Forest with plans to travel over Taboose Pass, a trail described as “strenuous” that requires a climb of more than 6,000 feet, according to the park service’s website.

The search was expected to continue Tuesday.

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