TEAMS SEARCH FOR TWO HIKERS

May 30, 2001 12:00 am
SEARCH OPERATION: Wallowa County Sheriff's Deputy Matthew Marmor, left, and Gary Koegler of Union County Search and Rescue plan search operations in La Grande this morning for two Portland women missing in the Eagle Cap Wilderness. (The Observer/PHIL BULLOCK).
SEARCH OPERATION: Wallowa County Sheriff's Deputy Matthew Marmor, left, and Gary Koegler of Union County Search and Rescue plan search operations in La Grande this morning for two Portland women missing in the Eagle Cap Wilderness. (The Observer/PHIL BULLOCK).

By T.L. Petersen

and Gary Fletcher

Observer Staff Writers

Two Portland women are being sought this morning after failing to return as scheduled from a weekend hike in the Eagle Cap Wilderness Area.

Union and Wallowa county search and rescue teams are organizing a horseback search from Moss Springs to look for Emma Alexander Rounds, 25, and Sara Ann Checkal, 28. Rounds is the daughter of the U.S. ambassador to Korea.

The two women are believed to have entered the Eagle Cap Wilderness at Moss Springs early Saturday.

The women reportedly have extensive outdoor living, camping and mountain climbing experience, said Union County Sheriff Steve Oliver.

Friends and family members reported from Portland that Rounds and Checkal had said they would be back Monday, since one had to work Tuesday and the other had been expected to pick up a family member flying into Portland Monday morning.

However, when Union County deputies located the womens Subaru Legacy at Moss Springs Tuesday evening, they found the two had left a note in the hikers log that said they would be out of the wilderness area May 29 Tuesday.

Rounds and Checkal let others know that their intention was to climb snow-covered mountains in the Wallowas, Oliver said this morning. Until the car was located, it wasnt clear if they were heading to Baker, Union or Wallowa counties for their Memorial Day weekend outing.

Oliver said the countys search and rescue mobile base bus was preparing to head to Moss Springs this morning, as were volunteer searchers with the Blue Mountain chapter of the Back Country Horsemen.

The area has some snow and wintry conditions, Oliver said, which may complicate the search.

Both women are believed to have good mountain gear with them, but no cell phones.

Rounds is described as 5-foot-1, 115 pounds with brown hair and eyes. She wears glasses. Her mother and uncle are expected to arrive in Union County later today.

Checkal is 5-4, 140 pounds, with blue-gray eyes.

Anyone in the wilderness area during the Memorial Day holiday weekend who may have seen the pair along a trail is asked to contact the Union County Sheriffs Office at 963-1017.