A massive search and rescue effort ended sadly on Sunday when the body of a Blue Lake man who did not return from a solo backpacking trip in the Trinity Alps Wilderness as scheduled last week was located high up among the granite peaks.
Daniel Komins, 34, entered the wilderness Saturday, Aug. 10, at the Canyon Creek Trailhead north of Junction City, where his vehicle was located. An EMT, firefighter and experienced hiker, Komins planned a five-day backpack trip to the Canyon Creek Lakes, then off-trail up and over a ridge to Sapphire Lake, returning to the Canyon Creek Trail via the Bear Creek Trail, said his girlfriend, Carli Hollis.
“He’s done hundreds of miles backpacking,” she said.
Sunday, Aug. 11, Komins took a strenuous side trip to Thompson Peak, posting a picture to Facebook of himself with other hikers he’d met.
Hollis last heard from him via text from his Garmin satellite communicator Sunday night, Aug. 11, with the preset message that everything was going according to plans. At that time he was at Upper Canyon Creek Lake. Then the communications stopped, which was unlike Komins who would usually communicate several times a day, she said.
As the days went on with no word, Hollis and Komins’ mother became more and more concerned.
He did not return home late Wednesday, Aug. 14, as planned and the Trinity County Sheriff’s Office was notified.
Ground search teams, ATV teams and CHP helicopter crews searched for Komins. The Sheriff’s Office said Komins’ GPS tracker was not operating appropriately. His cell phone had not seen activity since Sunday, Aug. 11.
Numerous agencies and volunteers from around the state became involved in the search for Komins, eventually numbering 12 teams inserted by helicopter into the Alps to search his planned route on foot.
Late in the morning on Sunday, Aug. 18, a California Highway Patrol helicopter crew observed what appeared to be a backpack. It was located off-trail between L Lake and Mirror Lake.
Ground search teams already near the area were able to recover the backpack later confirmed to be Komins’. They continued to search the area near the backpack, later locating Komins who was deceased.
His remains were flown from the area by helicopter. The Trinity County Sheriff’s Office said a preliminary investigation appears to indicate that Komins may have fallen to his death in the steep and rocky terrain.
A TCSO press release said additional information will be released once it becomes available.
Agencies involved in the search included the Trinity County Sheriff’s Office, Trinity County Search and Rescue, Trinity County Sheriff’s Auxiliary, Bay Area Mountain Rescue Unit, Butte County Search and Rescue, California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, California Highway Patrol, California National Guard and Contra Costa County Search and Rescue.