Hiker found dead at the bottom of waterfall

BIG SUR, CA – The adventurous journey of an experienced hiker met a tragic end when her body was found at the base of a waterfall in Northern California’s Ventana Wilderness. Caroline Meister, 30, an avid hiker, embarked on a hike from the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center on Monday, March 18. Alerted of her prolonged absence, a search and rescue mission was organized.

Monterey County Sheriff Tina M. Nieto announced the unfortunate finding at a press briefing on Friday. The search teams had located Meister’s body around 10:45 a.m. PST near a trail at the foot of a waterfall.

Preliminary indications suggest no foul play. While the official cause of death awaits the coroner’s report, the sheriff’s office has asserted that Meister’s injuries were consistent with a tumble from a great height.

For her day-long hike, Meister had packed light with just enough supplies. She was not equipped for an overnight stay, indicating that she had not planned to extend her trip.

Meister, who stood at 5 feet, 6 inches, and weighed 150 pounds, had light brown hair expected to be tied back. She had donned teal boots for her hike and carried a blue bag, as described by police seeking leads on her whereabouts.

The seasoned hiker had informed fellow residents at the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center about her intent to explore a loop trail leading back to the facility and possibly hiking the Windcave Trail.

A long and strenuous search ensued, involving the Monterey County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Team, Drone Team, and a California Highway Patrol Helicopter.