Body Of Missing California Hiker Found At Base Of Waterfall

Caroline Meister, a 30-year-old woman described as an "avid hiker," had set out for a day hike before her disappearance.

The body of a woman who went missing on a solo hike in California has been found at the base of a waterfall.

Caroline Meister, 30, had set out for a hike Monday from the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, a zen monastery where she was living and working, for a hike in the Ventana Wilderness area of Los Padres National Forest. She had packed only enough food for the day and did not bring equipment for an overnight hike, the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

Caroline Meister is shown in a photo shared by the Monterey County Sheriff's Office.
Caroline Meister is shown in a photo shared by the Monterey County Sheriff's Office.
Monterey County Sheriff's Office

She was reported missing when she didn’t return that evening. Her disappearance sparked a wide search involving teams from multiple state and county agencies.

Meister, who was originally from Illinois, was an “avid hiker” and familiar with the area where she was hiking, her parents told news station KSBW when the search was ongoing.

On Friday, responders located Meister’s body at the bottom of a waterfall near a path known as the Tassajara Cut-Off trail. Authorities said that her body had injuries consistent with a fall down a cliff, and they do not suspect foul play.

The waterfall’s base is about a 150-foot drop from the trail. Monterey County Sheriff’s Cmdr. Andy Rosas told CBS Chicago that there’s a “very slick” area where water crosses over the hiking trail.

Tassajara Zen Mountain Center Director Heather Ianrusso told the news outlet that Meister had not been doing “anything risky,” and that she is missed “deeply.”

“She was an amazingly sweet, bright spirit – very gentle and kind and helpful,” Ianrusso said.

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