Waking up I wen to the privy and to the shelter. Flailing had a fire going already and had chosen to not wake us up. I surveyed the untouched gear in the shelter and packed up my stuff quickly. The belongings in the shelter troubled me, each item placed so specifically. The sleeping bag, laid out, half open with an open book, upside down at he feet. Saying, I left my bed for a moment and I will be right back. The pack and its contents laid neatly to the left with the intention of spending the day and night.
Talking with Flailing, it appears that this was how the belongings were when he saw them the previous day. This troubled me, who ever left the shelter intended on returning and never did. This person could be missing, lost or injured. As respectfully as I could, taking photos, and going through the belongings, I searched for clues to the owner. The wallet yielded no ID but a hand written address. Under the pack was a Veteran Services business card and a journal. Paging through the journal I found a bunch of names and numbers and took a photo of them as well. I would have to climb Saddle Back to get service and that would have to wait.
Before starting our climb, I walked over to the caretakers residence and they were no where to be found either. Their signs of life less than immediate, no one had been there in days. On our way out we found a set of caves to explore. There were two reasons for em to hit the caves, one because it would eat up some time and it could be fun, and two if the person was in them it would make for an easy find. Fun had and no one found I hit the mountain hard. The cold air had my muscles going with caffeine as I climbed the steep mountain in no time.
Upon reaching the top and finding no luck with the numbers I found, I was left with one option, to call the police. With little info to go on I relayed, that we had found some gear that belonged to someone and explained all I found. The police called the rangers and put me in touch with them. The rangers later calling back informed em that they had already had the items reported and someone would be coming out to clean them up. No hiker had been reported missing.
I was instantly upset, of course no one had been reported missing, the man was most likely homeless, a vet, and not mentally well. The writing in his journal, combined with all the other items painted a very clear picture. He was living there and because he had no one else, no one would have reported him missing. I couldn’t help but think, if i was hiking alone and left the trail, would I be missing or just lost? If no one reports you missing, does that mean you cant be missing? I reported the guy missing, does that count for something. Who ever he was he was there once and his belongings, his only possessions were clearly important to him.
I couldn’t shake the thoughts as I climbed over and down the back of the mountain. I was so lost in thought, that I hardly noticed the climb up the second mountain. It wasn’t until we broke treeline that I saw the wonder around me. The fall colors were starting to come in and it was truly amazing. The valleys and areas around me were lit vibrantly in color. The bright reds, yellows, oranges, and greens painted a wonderful rainbow of color and feelings of autumn. Taking a few photos we climbed down the backside. The rocky, steep descent took so long that I became tired at the bottom.
With just a river crossing in front of me, I pushed to climb across, hoping from stone to stone. The trail maintainer we met, had said there was a campsite not far from where we were and that was my goal. My tired sore feet craved to be vertical and I had to obey. The only thing in our way was a 200 foot climb straight up. Tackling that we came to road and Flailing quickly found a tent site. Before settling in, the two of us jumped across the stream and found an even better site for us. Fire built, dinner ate, I still thought of the missing person as I fell asleep.