Samantha Sayers, Disappeared August 1st, 2018, Vesper Peak, North Cascades Mountains, Washington State
Samantha "Sam" Sayers, 28, went missing whilst on a solo hike on the Vesper Peak trail in the North Cascades mountains in Washington on Wednesday, August 1st, 2018.
Sam left on the trail at around 8am and was expected to head home and check in with her boyfriend, Kevin Dares, that evening by 6pm. He couldn't accompany Sam because he was working but headed to the trail that evening with darkness coming to search for her when she hadn't returned. Around 1am the following day her family reported her missing.
The Washington Trails Association describes the Vesper Peak Trail as "Vesper Peak is definitely not for the novice hiker, but for those thirsting for one step beyond hiking into backcountry adventure, it's a good leaping off point. The potential consequences of stumbling here are decidedly lesser than they are on other summits along the Mountain Loop. Some hikers have said that the Vesper Peak trail is “hard to follow,” implying that Sayers might have accidentally strayed from the trail.
She was last seen wearing light grey hiking pants and a black sports bra with green eyes, and bald due to alopecia, that causes hair loss. She was an experienced hiker and had hiked the Vesper area before.
The Snohomish County Sherrif's Office undertook a search which was one of the longest and largest rescue efforts authorities have undertaken in years. 70 searchers, fourteen dog teams and helicopters searched the area to no avail. At one point, drone operators and the sheriff’s Marine Unit were involved. In addition, volunteer searchers from around the state spent thousands of hours of time, leaving bags with a note saying "Stay Strong! We're looking for you. Everyone is thinking of you" with a poncho, socks, energy bars, compass, flashlight, fire sticks and a lighter. The sheriff’s office spoke with witnesses who saw Sayers the day she went missing, but none saw her come back down the trail.
Her boyfriend said she had lunch with an unidentified male before she disappeared. This unidentified person checked in with searchers and reported that after seeing the news of the disappearance that he had lunch with Sam near the summit on that day at roughly 3 pm. He also said that after they parted ways he later saw her from a distance making her way down the west side of the mountain towards Spada Lake.
The sheriff’s office said since August 2, search operations had included 357 hours of air operations from the sheriff’s office and other agencies, 105 hours for drone operations in the search area, 82 hours for the marine unit to support search teams in Spada Lake, 329 hours for sheriff’s office search-and-rescue personnel and thousands of volunteer hours from search and rescue teams from around the state.
Sam's car was found parked at the trailhead, 27 miles south of Darrington on the Mountain Loop Highway in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.
After three weeks, on August 23rd, 2018, the official search was called off with no sign of the hiker. Search and Rescue Sgt. John Adams said “We have exhausted all leads and tips. We’ve interviewed all witnesses who have come forward. We have checked and double checked the possible routes we believe Sam could have taken. If there was a place we thought she could get to, we put people there to look for Sam, often putting our volunteers and personnel at great risk due to the rugged, remote, and dangerous terrain.”
Family members however continued the search, with private helicopters, dog teams and a professional tracker using the $39,000 raised on a GoFundMe page. Members of a Facebook group set up by the family helped with tasks such as searching through hours of drone video for any signs.
Despite the extensive search, no evidence relating to Sam's whereabouts has been found as of the time of the writing of this article. Another baffling disappearance.