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Story by Ralph Metcalf - The Oregon Herald Oregon Hera
Published on Monday March 15, 2010 - 10:22 AM
 
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PORTLAND, Oregon - Portland Hiker Kate Huether's body was found Saturday at the base of a steep cliff off the side of Table Mountain, four miles north of Bonneville Dam. Because the cliff is so steep, those working on the recovery effort had to wait one more day, until a helicopter arrived, to bring out the 24 year old's body. The Skamania County undersheriff offered these somewhat-soothing words:All"Just based on the mechanics of that fall, I don't think she suffered," he said.

South of table mountain, the King County Sheriff's Office helicopter hovered to try to recover Huether's body late Sunday afternoon. With winds not cooperating, the pilot was forced to drop three searchers about an eighth of a mile from Huether's body.

"It's very, very steep," said Undersheriff Dave Cox. "There's a lot of loose rock and it's just too dangerous to put people in there in the dark."

This is roughly 24-hours after James Martin and his son Tucker found the hiker's body covered in snow. "There's no way you would have seen her unless you were right on top of her," James Martin told said.

Nearly a week after Huether was reported missing, and with the official search called off off Wednesday, the Martins rode their ATVs into the rugged terrain Saturday, hiking along the cliff face to follow what James Martin called a "hunch."

"Common sense told me to look in those trees," James said, "because I had seen the chopper over it ... That's the only place somebody could be if they fell off there and not be found."

Deputies believe Huether made it more than seven miles on the Pacific Crest Trail on March 4 before falling – once reported to be 800 feet, but now believed to be more than 1,500 feet from the spot where Huether may have lost her footing in the setting darkness 10 days ago.

"It was definitely dark, if she left here at three o'clock, by the time she was up there," Martin said.

But why would this "avid hiker" start such a climb so late in the day? For friends like roommate and landlord David Danowski, it still just doesn't add up.

"It seems very interesting to me," Danowski said as he waited for Huether's body to be brought out. "Everybody's kind of wondering ... but we're just glad we found her."

Also still unclear Sunday is how one of Huether's credit card receipts ended up on a completely separate trail.

These are mysteries though that Danowski said are overshadowed by the true gift of knowing such a great woman.

"I'm a better person because I met her," Danowski said. "And she'll always be in my memory. I think, for everybody that met her, she was just really a true, kind, selfless person." :

He said those who know her now realize "life can be very elusive and temporary." Now, Danowski said they feel as if Huether "was a gift to us."

We understand there will be a private party to remember her Sunday night for family and friends in Portland.

We're also told she'll eventually be cremated, and her family may have some sort of memorial when they come back to spread Kate's ashes. Some of her ashes will be scattered at Table Mountain: a place she hiked with her father, a place she loved dearly and a place with majestic views of the ancient Bridge of the Gods.