Chet Hanson - Strange disappearances in U.S. national parks

Chet Hanson - Strange disappearances in U.S. national parks

Chet E Hanson, disappeared November 11th, 1997, Deer Creek Trailhead, Mount Rainier National Park, California

Chet Hanson disappearance

Chet Hanson, 27, lived in Wilkeson, Washington State. He was a keen photographer of the outdoors and nature.

On 11th November 1997, Chet left his home at around 6.30am for a photography trip in the Mt. Rainier National Park. His mother said goodbye as he left and he told her that he would be back in time for dinner that day. He took around 35 pounds of camera equipment with him including lenses and a tripod. He was dressed lightly in shorts and a fleece and wore hiking/trail boots.

Shriner trail, mount rainier national park

Unfortunately, he didn't show up for dinner as planned that evening, but his parents weren't overly concerned that first night as they believed he may have been staying with friends. On Wednesday 12th, his employers, Alaska Airways, phoned the parents that he hadn't turned up at work as expected at 2.30pm and he was reported missing.


A search was started by friends and family and his car was found at the Deer Creek Trailhead in the park. Wilkeson police were informed of Chet's disappearance and then subsequently park rangers. The car was opened and a set of negatives, a key ring with a set of house keys, glasses case and some miscellaneous papers. One negative was from Highway 410 and the other was a photograph from the Tipsoo Lake area.

Shriner peak lookout, mount rainier

Chet was a strong hiker and knew the Mount Rainier area well, tending to walk cross country and avoid the trails. He had been focusing on photographing water falls and lakes recently which gave the searchers some valuable clues to his likely destination the day he went to the park.  A member of the public, Willard Olson and his girlfriend,  reported that they had seen someone who fitted Chet's description at Shriner Peak on 11th November at around mid-day. 

Despite an extensive search with sniffer dogs, cadaver dogs and at least 100 searchers, neither Chet nor his precious camera equipment were ever found. He had disappeared off the face of the earth.