Birch Bay woman dies after falling on hiking trail

By Stefanie Donahue

A hiking accident in the North Cascades resulted in the death of a Birch Bay woman on July 11, according to Skagit County Sheriff’s Office chief of patrol operations Chad Clark.

Karen Vaden, 68, had hiked more than halfway through the 4.2-mile loop on the Sauk Mountain trail before falling about 70 feet in an area of steep switchbacks, Clark said. She was accompanied by a group of friends who carried her to a clearing and performed CPR.

Skagit County sheriff’s deputies responded to the scene around 3 p.m. and received assistance from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island about an hour later, Clark said. Vaden died before arriving to Skagit Valley Hospital.

Sauk Mountain trail is steep and narrow and in some places eroded due to hikers cutting through the switchbacks, according to the Washington Trails Association.

Hikers gain about 1,200 feet in elevation and the highest point reaches about 5,500 feet.

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