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 8 am and was expected to head home and check in with her boyfriend, Kevin Dares, that evening by 6 pm. He couldn’t accompany Sam because he was working. He went to the trail at around 8 pm with darkness coming to search for her when she hadn’t returned. Around 1 am the following day, her family reported her missing.    

She still has not been found.

The hike on the Vesper Peak Trail

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.

Sam was last seen wearing light grey hiking pants and a black sports bra. She was bald due to alopecia. She was an experienced hiker and had hiked the Vesper area before. 

The search

The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office started a search, one of the longest and largest rescue efforts authorities have done in years. 

Sam’s car was parked at the trailhead, 27 miles south of Darrington on the Mountain Loop Highway in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

Seventy searchers on foot, fourteen dog teams, and helicopters searched the Vesper 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 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 Sam the day she went missing, but none saw her come back down the trail.Ezoic

Her boyfriend, Kevin Dares, said she had lunch with an unidentified male before disappearing. This unidentified person checked in with searchers and reported that after seeing the news of the disappearance, he had lunch with Sam near the summit of Vesper Peak 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 mountain’s west side 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.

Search terminated

After three weeks, on August 23rd, 2018, the official search was called off with no sign of Sam. 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 of Sam’s whereabouts has been found.

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