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Local hikers find mystery skeleton in the Sierra Nevada mountains

Posted at 4:35 PM, Oct 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-22 21:01:06-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Two local hikers are back in San Diego and after making a bizarre discovery on a remote trail in the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

On a beautiful day two weeks ago, Tyler Hofer and Brandon Follin were in their second day of a hike up Mt. Williamson, the state's second's highest peak.

"Very remote, very rugged," said Hofer.

The 14,000-foot summit was just three hours away when they got a bit off track in a boulder-filled area near a lake.

"It's called the Williamson Bowl. It's a bowl at the foot of Mt. Williamson," said Hofer.

Inside the rocky bowl, the two were stepping across boulders when something caught Hofer's eye.

"I look down and see what appears to be a different color rock. Instead of gray, it's white," said Hofer.

Wedged under a small boulder was a human skull.

"We just start removing rocks about one to two feet in diameter," said Hofer.

Under those rocks was a skeleton, mostly intact.

"The arms were crossed on its chest ... as if you were lying in a casket or coffin ... almost as if someone laid it there peacefully," said Hofer.

Also buried in the rocks: the remnants of a leather belt and rubber shoes.

"In shock and in awe of what we found and the context in which we found it," said Hofer.

The two reached the summit to get cell service and reported their findings to Inyo County deputies. Investigators say there are no signs of foul play and no matches to any missing persons reports. Based on the state of decomposition, the coroner believes the skeleton is several decades old.

"I'm just honored to be part of uncovering this mystery, because that's what it is," said Hofer.

Hofer, a local youth pastor, is hopeful the discovery will lead to answers.

"That gives me a lot of joy knowing someone is going to get closure. That is someone's loved one," said Hofer.

Investigators say they're following up on tips that have poured in. They also plan to conduct DNA tests, before matching results against genealogy databases. Anyone with information on the case is asked to call the Inyo County Sheriff's Office at 760-878-0383.