8/01/2010 06:30:00 PM

Day 63 (July 8, 2010)– Tragedy in North Cascades

After making a quick stop in town, we headed up to our trailhead and started our hike. The hike was suppose to be a 4.5 mile hike with 3,200 feet of elevation gain. After about a 1.5 miles, Ross decided that Nadine and I’s pace was too slow so he went ahead and we would meet him at the ridge overlooking Hidden Lake. As we hike up, we crossed over several small creeks (remember this it is important later). After a couple of hour of hike, Nadine and I reached the point where the trail turned from trail to snow. After attempting to follow the snow path, we realized we had lost the trail and Ross’s foot prints.

Since we couldn’t go anywhere and the view was spectacular from where we were, we spent the next two hours sitting and enjoying the view waiting for Ross to realize that we were not going to meet him at the top and to hike back down.

Mount Baker

After two hours we started to get hungry so we headed down and figured Ross would catch us on the way down. As we hiked down those small creeks were now raging creek and some were difficult to cross. But alas he hadn’t by the time we got to the trailhead. I hadn’t been concerned when we started down, but once we reached the trailhead, I was getting a little more concerned about Ross, but it was possible he had lost track of time and had gotten distracted. I figured he would be down in the next hour. Another hour plus passed and still no Ross at this point the sun is going down and I am in full panic mode. Nadine and I head back up the trail and still can’t see him at this point we have about an hour and a half of daylight left so we go for help.

Since we didn’t have a cell phone, we used the local gas stations phone to call 911 and report him missing. The 911 operator does asks the usual question and tell us to wait at the gas station we are at to meet with the Sheriff’s deputy when he arrives. As we are waiting the lady at the gas station suggest going over to the Ranger Command Center and seeing if that will help. So I go to the Command Center and Nadine stays at the gas station.

At the Command Center, I go over the same info with the Ranger and Controller there. The Ranger wants to go out to the trailhead and hike up and see if he can find Ross, but the problem is that the trail starts outside the National Park so he had to get PERMISSION to go search for Ross. At that moment, I really wanted to tell them, I didn’t care about jurisdiction, I just wanted Ross found. Finally, the Ranger got permission to head up to the trailhead and they sent me back to the gas station to meet up with Nadine. We spent another hour waiting on the deputy to show up. Once he did he gave us the talk about how Ross wouldn’t freeze to death tonight and that most of the missing person either walk out by themselves or are found stuck in a dry creek bed in the morning by search and rescue. He told us that search and rescue would start looking at 4:00 am.

The deputy sent us back to our camp site “to get a good night’s sleep.” Like that was going to really happen. We decide to swing by the trailhead and check one last time and then go to our campsite. As we were heading up to the trailhead we meet the ranger coming down. Thankfully he had found Ross. Nadine hops out of my car and goes to open the Ranger door to give Ross a hug. At that point, I am torn between giving Ross an hug or hitting him. I opt for the hug when Nadine gets the door open and I see his arm has been bandaged up.

We head back to the campsite where the rangers give Ross a once over while Nadine and I pack up the tents so we can head to the hospital. The closest good hospital is over two hours away so we head there.


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