Clock ticking for hiker missing in Superstition Mountains

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

APACHE JUNCTION, Ariz. -- Searchers have saddled up and set out for day two of scouring the rugged Superstition Mountains for a Gilbert hiker who has been missing since Sunday.

Kenny Clark went for what should have been a four- or five-hour hike Sunday, but he never returned. His family reported him missing at about 6:30 p.m. after finding his car parked near First Water Trailhead.

Aerial video Monday morning showed the little red car roped off with police tape.

Nearly 60 people from both Maricopa and Pinal counties spent Monday looking for Clark. Search crews were on the ground and in the air. In addition, six tracking dogs have been brought in. MCSO said searchers covered most of the known paths in the area Monday.

The plan Tuesday was for mounted search teams to go outside those known paths. The weather will dictate how long that search goes on. If crews have to suspend the operation because of excessive heat, they will pick it back up this evening once things cool off a bit.

Officer Chris Hegstrom with the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office said Clark is an experienced hiker and is familiar with the First Water Trail area.

"My understanding is he's been to this area, and he knows the area fairly well," he said. "This isn't something new to him."

There is a book at the start of the trail. Hikers are supposed to sign it so there is an indication that they were on the trail. Clark, for some reason, did not sign it.

While Clark, 56, started out with plenty of water, he's likely out by now, which puts him in serious danger of dehydration.

"It's not easy to survive in this. Temperatures reaching well over 100 degrees so, of course, it is an urgency for us to try to locate him," Hegstrom said.

MCSO has an infrared camera it usually uses in searches like this. That camera is designed to detect body heat, but the high temperatures that persist into the evening hours have rendered it useless.

Clark is reportedly in good condition and has no known medical history, both of which are in his favor. He has long blond hair and weighs about 200 pounds.

This is not the first time Clark's wife has been through something like this. She lost her first husband in 1985. He went hiking and froze to death after getting lost in a snowstorm.

First Water Trail is located just north of Apache Junction and is one of the easiest access points to the Superstition Wilderness Area, which is part of the Tonto National Forest.

The Superstition Mountains are about 50 minutes east of Phoenix near Apache Junction.