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One missing hiker OK, search for another ends in Washington

By Jonathan Kaminsky

OLYMPIA, Washington (Reuters) - A hiker stranded for days in waist-deep snow in central Washington state was found in good condition, while the search for another missing hiker in the area has been suspended, authorities said on Sunday.

Oregon resident Alejandra Wilson, 23, was "cold and tired but otherwise OK" after being located by rescuers on Saturday afternoon after a nearly weeklong search, said Sergeant George Town of the Yakima County Sheriff's Office.

After undergoing a medical evaluation, Wilson was reunited with delighted family members, Town said.

Wilson was walking the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada when she was caught in a storm that dumped more than two feet of snow overnight Monday. She hunkered down and waited until conditions improved and she could make her way out, Town said.

The search for Wilson began after she failed to check in with her father on Monday as planned from White Pass, a mountain locale in Washington state about 140 miles northeast of Portland.

Two other hikers also en route from Mexico to Canada on the Pacific Crest Trail were caught in the same storm and were rescued by helicopter on Tuesday after they were able to contact authorities by cellphone.

As Wilson was being reunited with her family, authorities in nearby Skamania County announced they had suspended the search for a hiker missing since last Saturday.

Oregon resident Kristopher Zitzewitz, 31, went missing after becoming separated from his hiking partner while caving in the Big Lava Beds area of Gifford Pinchot National Forest near Mount Rainier, authorities said.

The search for Zitzewitz was suspended on Saturday and would be resumed if new information regarding his whereabouts becomes known, said Skamania County Undersheriff Dave Cox in a written statement.

"We had over 100 people working to locate him today and unfortunately found nothing," Cox said in the statement, released on Saturday. "We are all very disappointed that we could not provide some closure for the family."

(Editing by Jane Sutton and Mohammad Zargham)

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