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Seattle hiking expert Sykes died of hypothermia: official

SEATTLE (Reuters) - Prominent Seattle hiking enthusiast and author Karen Sykes, whose body was found near Mount Rainier after she disappeared during a trail hike, died of hypothermia, an official in Washington state said on Monday.

The 70-year old, who has written books and newspaper articles on hiking in and around Mount Rainier National Park, was reported missing there by a companion hiker late on June 18 after she failed to return from a stretch of the eight-mile Owyhigh Lakes Trail, park official said.

The pair, who split up when they reached a portion of the route that was covered in snow, had agreed to meet up later.

Local coroners on Monday identified Sykes and said she died of hypothermia, though the exact circumstances and the extent of her injuries were not immediately known, according to an official with the Pierce County Medical Examiner's office.

National Park Service rangers on Saturday suspended the search for Sykes after finding the body of a woman, though the body had not been identified.

A secondary cause of death was given as heart disease, the Seattle Times newspaper reported, citing the Pierce County Medical Examiner's office.

(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Hugh Lawson)