Registered Nurse Lisa Markli of Port Angeles was found dead in Olympic National Park on July 22, some two weeks after her retirement from the North Olympic Healthcare Network (NOHN).
NOHN CEO Dr. Michael Maxwell confirmed on July 23 that the person whose body was discovered by searchers below Stephen Peak in West Jefferson County was the registered nurse who had worked with NOHN since early 2016.
“She had just retired 2 weeks ago after a long and impactful healthcare career to travel, recreate, and spend more time with friends and family. We are shocked and saddened by the tragic news of her loss,” Maxwell wrote in an email.
“She was an incredibly kind, caring, and skilled RN who was loved by her co-workers and patients alike,” he said.
Markli, 62, was backpacking alone on the Bailey Range Traverse, a remote, off-trail route, park officials said. A Coast Guard helicopter located her body at 12:55 p.m. Saturday below Stephen Peak above the Hoh River, and soon after, a ground search team confirmed her identity.
Markli was known for her love of outdoor activities, including solo backpacking, bicycling, kayaking, skiing and an activity called extreme gardening in her biography on the NOHN website.
She had reportedly hiked the Bailey Range Traverse before. With her husband adventurer and author Chris Duff, she offered kayaking lessons in 2016 and participated in many outdoor adventures.
Markli had lived in Port Angeles since 1988.
“In recent years, she had completed special training to manage complex wound care among her other many skills and was a highly valued resource,” Maxwell said in his email.
“We were excited for her as she pursued her well-deserved retirement, and all of us at NOHN are deeply saddened by her passing.”
Maxwell said counseling resources would be made available to NOHN staff as they work through their grief.
Originally from Idaho, Markli attended Pacific Lutheran University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in biology.
She taught anatomy/physiology, kinesiology and pathology in the Peninsula College Massage Therapy Program and became an RN in 2004.
Park officials reported Saturday that a search had begun Thursday for Markli after she was reported overdue.
On Friday and Saturday, multiple ground search teams had dispatched along her intended route, the park said in its press release.
Search teams were comprised of Olympic Mountain Rescue, Seattle Mountain Rescue, Jefferson County Search and Rescue, Everett Mountain Rescue, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island and National Park Service personnel. In addition, aerial resources continued to search the area, park officials said.
Several members of the local community also contributed extensive knowledge of the route that helped make search efforts much more effective, the park said.
The Washington Trails Association describes the Bailey Range Traverse as “challenging, largely off-trail, multi-day backpacking scramble across the rough and rugged interior of the Olympic Mountains.”