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June 17, 2024

Missing California hiker found dead at base of waterfall

Missing California hiker found dead at base of waterfall

A 30-year-old hiker was found dead at the base of a waterfall in Carmel Valley, California, four days after she set off for a day hike, officials said.

Caroline Meister’s body was discovered Friday morning after crews rappelled down a waterfall near “Cut Off Trail” in the Ventana Wilderness.

“Based on the physical evidence, we don’t think any foul play was involved. We think that it was accidental,” Monterey County Sheriff Tina Nieto said.

A forensic examination will be performed to determine the exact cause of Meister’s death.

Caroline Meister.Monterey County Sheriff’s Office

Meister left the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center for a solo hike about 10 a.m. March 18. When she didn’t return that same day, staff members at the center contacted the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office and noted that she was “not prepared for an overnight hike.”

Meister’s parents have said she was a “very experienced and avid hiker” and “very familiar with the area.” She was living and working at the Zen Center at the time of her death.

“We are all deeply saddened and in shock. The sanghas at Tassajara, Green Gulch Farm, and City Center are gathering to support each other in the wake of this distressing news,” the San Francisco Zen Center said. “108 bells are ringing. Our hearts are broken.”

Katherine Itoh

Katherine Itoh is a news associate for NBC News.

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