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Thread: Where on Earth Is Sam Sayers?

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    Where on Earth Is Sam Sayers?

    Where on Earth Is Sam Sayers?

    On a perfect summer day, a solo hiker went missing from a Cascade trail. A search ensued unlike anything the state of Washington has ever seen. Nine months later, the mystery has consumed the lives of thousands. Where did she go?

    By Allison Williams 4/23/2019 at 9:00am Published in the May 2019 issue of Seattle Met








    Sometime in the morning of a bluebird August day, a Seattle woman picked up a pencil and wrote her name on the register at a trailhead off the Mountain Loop Highway. The paper is there to log the hikers on Sunrise Mine Trail #707, a route that winds to the top of Vesper Peak.
    Her scrawl is the last concrete sign of the 27-year-old day hiker whose disappearance launched one of the biggest search and rescue operations in the state’s history. As clues go, it’s not much, just a name: Sam Sayers.
    The day was hot, the faint haze from far-off wildfires hanging in the air. Other day trippers would recall seeing the solo hiker stripped down to her bra and hiking pants. They remembered her distinctive bald head, crowned with a star tattoo like a Roman laurel wreath.
    After climbing more than 4,000 feet, up switchbacks and across boulder fields and finally across the patchy snow that marbles the stone pyramid of Vesper’s very top, Sam reached the summit. Vesper Peak comes to a triangular point, like a child’s drawing of a mountain. Though it was a weekday, the sunshine brought summer crowds; another hiker remembers seeing her eat a sandwich, lettuce protruding from between bread slices, while she chatted with rock climbers who’d ascended one of the sharper faces.
    The last few hundred feet of Vesper is more of a scramble route than it is a defined path. Once the proper trail peters out in the dirt and heather, it’s common for every comer to pick their own way. A hiker remembers seeing Sam veer down toward the peak’s southwest side around 3pm. The wrong side of the mountain, he later told a sheriff’s office sergeant.
    That was nine months ago. No one’s seen a single trace of Sam Sayers since.
    Sam Sayers on an earlier Vesper hike.

    Image: Courtesy Kevin Dares

    It isn’t easy to utterly vanish. Thanks to GPS watches and cell phones, facial-recognition cameras and credit card chips, the world observes and records. The most paranoid among us believe that every person is shadowed by satellites—and that’s probably not so far-fetched.
    So we go to the woods, the mountains, the thin air of the alpine. The Cascades retain pockets of remote wilderness, enclaves that feel as raw as when Western civilization first mowed a passage to the Pacific, yet are a casual drive from Seattle.
    Amid conifers and half-frozen lakes, we can feel free from our modern tangle of surveillance, even as tenuous threads still leash us to the world below: ever-pinging cell phones, footsteps on an established trail. But one day in August, one woman’s tethers disintegrated in a moment.
    On August 1, 2018, Sam Sayers joined the exclusive and unfortunate ranks of people gone missing in America’s wilderness. There’s no official count; when the U.S. Department of the Interior tried to build a database of such events, the effort drew criticism as an expensive, malfunctioning boondoggle. One count estimates 1,600 people are currently missing on public lands.
    “The system is so broke, they don’t even track it,” says David Francis, whose son Jon disappeared in Idaho in 2006. Like Sam, Jon summited a mountain and then vanished. “We can get statistics on auto accidents but they’re not collected for people missing in the wilderness.”
    The search for Jon lasted only two days before the county sheriff pulled out and, as David remembers, told him he should give his son up to the mountain. Law enforcement, particularly the county sheriffs of the West who hold responsibility for wilderness operations, are by David’s accounting “inadequately trained, funded, staffed, or committed to long-term searches.”
    Except in the case of Sam Sayers. The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office launched 310 search and rescue missions last year, up 6 percent from 2017. About a third were for outdoorspeople: hikers, campers, hunters, fishermen, spelunkers, or prospectors. The county’s SAR spent 20,197 hours on missions in 2018, with approximately 8,000 of those hours looking for Sam.
    From his home in Minnesota, David Francis says that in the decade he’s followed lost hiker cases, he’s never seen anything like it. “I was amazed. They are the most dedicated West Coast county sheriffs I’ve ever seen.”
    Late on that August day, a few hours after Sam wandered down Vesper, Kevin Dares sat inside Rocco’s, an upscale pizza restaurant in Belltown with Victorian wallpaper and novelty banh mi slices. The 33-year-old lives just across Second Avenue and the eatery is more or less his office, where he runs a company that does real estate deals, renovations, and property management. Rocco’s is basically his Cheers; everybody knows his name.
    Kevin was expecting a call from Sam, his live-in girlfriend, by 6pm. Before she left on her solo hike on the Vesper Peak trail he’d texted “Be safe...sos me if anything goes haywire.” Her reply—“Thanks baby I love you.”—was classic Sam, straightforward and confident. Like Kevin she was a self-employed entrepreneur, owner of a cleaning service for Airbnbs. If Sam was distinctive for the head she shaved bald, Kevin’s signature trait is the thick New Orleans accent that betrays his Louisiana upbringing.
    As the August day melted into late evening, Kevin grew concerned. Sam had hiked Vesper Peak before, but it’s a rigorous trail. He drove to the trailhead, a little over an hour and a half from Belltown, stopping at a gas station to buy a flashlight.
    The Sunrise Mine Trail lot was dark, and Kevin could see Sam’s blue Ford Fiesta still in the gravel lot. Flashlight in hand he started up the dirt path around 10pm, quickly through the first third of the hike, which rambles through thick forest. There the route passes across the south fork of the Stillaguamish River; hikers hop across boulders while the knee-deep creek rushes beneath. The trail gains elevation through switchbacks cut in a brushy hillside.



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    I remember hearing about this but never to the depth of this article...very interesting. It's sad that the two families are now investigating separately. I feel like there's more story there. In the end, I think Sergeant Adams has it right, "Sam is somewhere on that mountain, not far from where she was last seen. He points to the moats off the north side of the peak, where the steep bottom of the cliff meets the glacier.".

    I hope her body will eventually be found for her loved ones. There are certain things you shouldn't do by yourself, imo. Mountain climbing is one of them.
    May we raise children who love the unloved things - the dandelion, the worm, the spiderlings.
    Children who sense the rose needs the thorn and run into rainswept days the same way they turn towards the sun...
    And when they're grown and someone has to speak for those who have no voice,
    may they draw upon that wilder bond, those days of tending tender things and be the one.

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    Do stupid things, win stupid prizes.

    Mark
    Race Card: A tool of the intellectually weak and lazy when they cannot counter a logical argument or factual data.

    "Liberals have to stop insisting that the world is what they want it to be instead of the way it is." - Bill Maher

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    I can understand hiking alone. I've done it, but not often. They're usually fairly short..under 3 hours, because I freak myself out.
    Not where I breathe, but where I love, I live...
    Robert Southwell, S.J.

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    Quote Originally Posted by phillygirl View Post
    I can understand hiking alone. I've done it, but not often. They're usually fairly short..under 3 hours, because I freak myself out.
    Thought about you the other day when I read this story:

    A woman played dead to save herself from attacker on Appalachian Trail
    May we raise children who love the unloved things - the dandelion, the worm, the spiderlings.
    Children who sense the rose needs the thorn and run into rainswept days the same way they turn towards the sun...
    And when they're grown and someone has to speak for those who have no voice,
    may they draw upon that wilder bond, those days of tending tender things and be the one.

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    If she hiked wearing the same type of clothes as she has on in the picture, she probably froze to death.

    Mark
    Race Card: A tool of the intellectually weak and lazy when they cannot counter a logical argument or factual data.

    "Liberals have to stop insisting that the world is what they want it to be instead of the way it is." - Bill Maher

    Political correctness is ideological fascism. It’s the antithesis of freedom. Dr. Piper

    Gender is not a "Social Construct", it is an outgrowth of biological reality.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michele View Post
    Thought about you the other day when I read this story:

    A woman played dead to save herself from attacker on Appalachian Trail
    Ugh. Stuff like that is rare on the trail, but it happens. Often it's more dangerous on local trails in terms of crime because of easy car access. When you're on more remote areas it's often safer because few criminals are going to hike out 20 miles to find prey.
    Not where I breathe, but where I love, I live...
    Robert Southwell, S.J.

  8. Likes Michele liked this post
  9. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by 80zephyr View Post
    If she hiked wearing the same type of clothes as she has on in the picture, she probably froze to death.

    Mark
    She has a light backpack. It's pretty common on mountain hikes for someone to bring along multiple layers of clothes to add/remove as the temperature at higher altitudes dictates. And we're talking about an experienced hiker here, not someone who just pulled their Winnebego over in a state park and started walking.
    Leftists have unquestionably demonstrated their hatred for due process, and Democrats have undeniably obstructed justice for, and thoroughly victim-shamed and smeared, Karen Monahan.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Adam View Post
    She has a light backpack. It's pretty common on mountain hikes for someone to bring along multiple layers of clothes to add/remove as the temperature at higher altitudes dictates. And we're talking about an experienced hiker here, not someone who just pulled their Winnebego over in a state park and started walking.
    If the picture is accurate, there is snow around her, and she has, basically, a bra on.

    Mark
    Race Card: A tool of the intellectually weak and lazy when they cannot counter a logical argument or factual data.

    "Liberals have to stop insisting that the world is what they want it to be instead of the way it is." - Bill Maher

    Political correctness is ideological fascism. It’s the antithesis of freedom. Dr. Piper

    Gender is not a "Social Construct", it is an outgrowth of biological reality.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 80zephyr View Post
    If the picture is accurate, there is snow around her, and she has, basically, a bra on.

    Mark
    And when you're hiking hard, sometimes that's all you want: just a light sweatshirt. That does not mean that ten seconds after that picture was taken she didn't add two more layers.
    Leftists have unquestionably demonstrated their hatred for due process, and Democrats have undeniably obstructed justice for, and thoroughly victim-shamed and smeared, Karen Monahan.

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