A tragic incident unfolded in Yosemite National Park as a 24-year-old San Diego State University graduate, Hayden Klemenok, went missing during an annual hiking trip with friends. Despite the family’s hope, search and rescue teams have shifted their focus to a recovery mission, acknowledging the dangerous conditions of the park’s rivers and creeks filled with melted snow.
Kevin Klemenok, Hayden’s father, revealed to NBC 7 that his son was taken by the swift-running Chilnualna Falls Creek, which proved relentless in its grip. Eyewitnesses reported that Hayden Klemenok had knelt down by the fast-moving water, possibly to wet his head or take a drink, before being swept away. His hiking companions made valiant efforts to reach him but were unable to catch up before he disappeared.
While maintaining a sense of hope, Kevin Klemenok shared that after receiving a challenging update from Park Rangers, the search has transitioned into a recovery mission. The family’s expectations are sobering, considering the treacherous conditions within Yosemite National Park.
Hayden Klemenok, originally from Petaluma, was a financial analyst for Porchlight Realty in North Park. He had embarked on the hiking trip with eight college friends, a tradition they had upheld for the past four years. Their chosen route was the Chilnualna Falls Trail, an eight-mile stretch with an elevation gain of 2,400 feet.
Park Rangers issued an alert seeking assistance from the public in locating the missing hiker. Any information, even if it pertains to sightings or relevant timelines, could aid in focusing the search efforts.
Hayden Klemenok was last seen wearing a tan, brimmed hat, white sunglasses, a red t-shirt, blue swimming trunks, and white Adidas shoes.
A park-wide warning about the hazardous conditions in Yosemite’s rivers remains in effect. Visitors are strongly cautioned to stay away from rivers near rocks, as wet surfaces are extremely slippery. Additionally, crossing bridges with water flowing over them should be avoided.
As the search and recovery mission continues, the thoughts and prayers of the community are with Hayden Klemenok’s family and friends during this difficult time.