California Hiker Found Dead After Fall in Sierra Nevada

ACalifornia man who went missing on a solo backpacking trip in the Sierra Nevada was found dead on Saturday, August 19.

Stephen Bloor, 57, of Santa Ana, was reported missing by his wife after his GPS tracking device stopped moving, according to Bloor had set out on the morning of Friday, August 18, from near Mammoth Lakes on a 180-mile hike to the Lake Tahoe area.

According to reports, he informed fellow hikers along the John Muir Trail about his intention to camp at Garnet Lake for the initial night, which required a 10-mile trek from Devils Postpile. However, his final communication with his wife, occurring around 6 p.m., indicated that he was located near Iceberg Lake, approximately 3 miles southwest of Garnet. Searchers from the Madera and Mono county sheriff’s offices, aided by a California Highway Patrol helicopter, found Bloor’s body on a steep boulder field near Iceberg Lake. He had apparently fallen and died from his injuries.

The recovery operation was postponed due to the danger presented by the weather associated with Tropical Storm Hilary. Bloor’s body was flown out on Tuesday, August 22.

Update: since posting this story, Lance “Clockwork” Goehring, a hiker who had previously met Bloor on trail, offered the following.

“I met Stephen fairly early on the trail (PCT ’21), before I had joined a trail family.  We were about the same age, had children of about the same age and shared a love of the outdoors. At that time, his experience backpacking was much more extensive than mine and he was free with advice and encouragement.

Though we were tackling the PCT in different ways, he was section hiking and I was tackling it all at once, we were each fascinated at the difficulty of what the other was doing. We only hiked together a few days, but we stayed in touch during and after the PCT. When he visited Arizona this April, we backpacked in Saguaro NP. I had messaged with him in July, telling him that I was going to be doing the Wonderland Trail later that month.  He was excited for me and indicated that was on his future list.

That’s definitely something that I remember, he always had plans for future adventures. While he was a willing conversationalist and enjoyed hiking with others, more than anything, he just enjoyed the trail itself and I think loved being out there alone.”

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Comments 1

  • Doug Laher : Aug 29th

    Such an important example of a hiker doing something right – keeping their satellite locator device powered on and capturing data. It’s what led SAR to his location. In 2020, my son Microsoft experienced a fatal “slip and fall” down a snow chute on Apache Peak.

    Microsoft, in an attempt to conserve battery power and fearful that his Garmin InReach was going to “die” kept his powered down, thinking that if something happened (e.g. broken arm, broken leg, severe injury) he would simply reach to his shoulder, power it on and hit the S.O.S. button. He routinely kept us abreast of his position on breaks and at camp every night, but leaving us a bread crumb trail during the day while hiking? Not so much. In theory, this sounded like a logical plan, but what he didn’t account for was a catastrophic injury (or death).

    Fortunately, Microsoft was with two other hikers that immediately activated their S.O.S. and within the hour, SAR was on their way. We were fortunate that he was with two other individuals that day, otherwise we’d likely still be searching for him in the San Jacinto mountains, much like David O’Sullivan.

    Stay safe everyone. While these devices often times save lives, they can also prevent families from suffering from ambiguous loss.

    Please keep David O’Sullivan, Chris Sylvia, Kris “Sherpa” Fowler (and all other missing hikers) in your thoughts and prayers.


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