14 Of The Most Mysterious Wilderness Disappearances Of All Time

Actor Julian Sands, 65, disappeared in January after traveling to California’s Mt. Baldy. While the search continues for Sands, many others have disappeared into the wilderness without a trace. Here’s a list of some of the most famous disappearances of all time.

Bessie and Glen Hyde

Bessie, 18, and Glen Hyde, 27, were on their honeymoon at the Grand Canyon in the fall of 1928 when they disappeared. They had been boating down the Colorado River with plans to travel through the Grand Canyon. Glen was an experienced boater, while Bessie had no experience. If they made the trip successfully, Bessie would have been the first woman to travel the Colorado river, and if the pair accomplished the tall task, they could receive money and be invited on a lecture tour.

After several months of travel, the couple’s boat was found full of supplies and unharmed, but with no sign of the Hydes. The couple has never been found.

Dennis Martin

Dennis Martin, 6, was camping with his brother, father, and grandfather on Father’s Day weekend in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 1969. On June 14, he and his brother, along with children from a separate family camping with them, hid behind some bushes to scare the adults. But after the other children returned to the campsite without Dennis, his father became concerned and started looking for him, to no avail.

National Park Service rangers were called in to assist in the search, and eventually, the National Guard and even the Green Berets joined in the search for the missing child, but he was never found. The only traces ever found were a shoe and a sock believed to belong to Dennis, and matching tracks leading to a stream.

Douglas Legg

Douglas Legg, 8, was about to go on a hike with his family in the Adirondack Forest Preserve’s Santanoni Preserve on July 10, 1971. His uncle, however, noticed some poison ivy and told the young boy to wear long pants, so Legg ran the short distance back to the family’s cabin to change clothes.

Legg knew the area, since the family owned the cabin, and was referred to as a “mini-woodsman,” so it was unlikely he simply became lost. But after one of the Adirondacks’ largest search and rescue operations, which included more than 600 people looking for the young boy, no trace was ever found.

Paul Braxton Fugate

Paul Fugate’s disappearance is especially strange because he was a Park Ranger at Chiricahua National Monument in Arizona. He disappeared in 1980 at the age of 41 after his shift ended and he went for a hike.

Fugate was the only permanent staff member at the park, so it is doubtful he would have left the seasonal employees to close the park. To make matters worse, Fugate was the person that would have organized the search and rescue, but without him, the local sheriff’s department and National Park Service (NPS) had to step in.

NPS claimed Fugate must have walked off his job, so it denied his wife the pension benefits she should have received. Five years later, those benefits were reinstated after a review of the case.

Stacy Arras

Stacy Arras, 14, along with her father and a group of others were on a week-long trip through Yosemite National Park. They were riding mules and had reached their last camp on the High Sierra Loop Trail at Tuolumne Meadows on July 17, 1981. Arras left her cabin with her camera to photograph the landscape but never returned.

Gerald Stuart, 77, was also on the tour and had walked with Arras for nearly half an hour before returning to camp to rest. Others saw the two together and witnessed Stacy continue on after Gerald sat down on a boulder. An extensive search of the area turned up nothing. No one even found any cigarettes either, even though Stacy was a smoker.

What makes Stacy’s case even more mysterious is the National Park Service’s refusal to turn over documents relating to her case.

Polly Melton

Thelma Pauline “Polly” Melton, was 58-years-old, out of shape, a heavy smoker, and taking medication for high blood pressure and nausea. Still, she loved to hike, and took to a simple trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on September 25, 1981. She went with two women, but apparently walked ahead of them and went over a knoll and was never seen again.

Melton carried nothing with her, not even her purse, because it was supposed to be a short, easy hike. No one heard from her, but a year later, a check was cashed in her name. Police never said whether it was her signature on the check.

Some speculated that Melton simply ran off, leaving her ill husband to start a new life with a new lover, but with no trace of her, no one can be sure.

John Devine

John Devine, 73, was visiting Olympic National Park in northern Washington State in 1997 when he disappeared. Despite his age, Devine was an experienced long-distance hiker who was camping with his friend, Greg Balzer. The two split up on September 7, 1997, so that Devine could hike and Balzer could hunt.

When Devine didn’t return, a search was called, but the search was called off when weather conditions deteriorated. Devine was never found.

Ruthanne Ruppert

Ruthanne Ruppert, 49, was vacationing in Yosemite National Park in August 2000 when she woke up with an eye infection. She received treatment, but missed a change to backpack with a group crossing the park. Needing to find a new way to spend her vacation, Ruppert rented a tent cabin and went shopping to stock up on supplies.

It’s unclear exactly when she went missing, but at some point she simply disappeared, leaving her supplies behind. A search and rescue crew found no trace of her.

Eight years later, Ruppert’s backpack was found in a drainage area nearly eight miles away from where she rented the tent cabin. No one knows how it ended up there or what happened to Ruppert.

Michael Ficery

Michael Ficery, 51, went for a hike at Yosemite National Park on June 15, 2005, at one of the park’s less popular trails. When he didn’t return home after his hiking permit expired, his family called in a search, which became so massive even the U.S. Marine Corps helped.

Searchers found Ficery’s bag, which still contained his map, camera, and some water. His family insisted he would never leave his bag while hiking, and feared the worst. In the nearly two decades since Ficery disappeared, no other trace of him has been found.

Barbara Bolick

Barbara Bolick, 55, was hiking with a family friend, Jim Ramaker, in the Bitterroot Mountains in Montana on July 18, 2007, when the pair stopped to take a break at a viewpoint at the end of a 2.7-mile-long trail. The pair spoke with some other hikers at the viewpoint before admiring the view of the mountains.

Bolick began walking back down the trail while Ramaker took one last look at the scenery. When he started down the path less than a minute later, he couldn’t find Bolick, and she didn’t answer when he called her name. He even blew a whistle trying to get her attention, but had no luck.

Ramaker, believing Bolick couldn’t get lost on a trail she knew well, returned to their vehicle, thinking she simply walked on without him. But Bolick was never seen again.

Morgan Heimer

Morgan Heimer, 22, worked for a rafting company known as Tour West, which operated along the Colorado River. On June 2, 2015, Heimer was helping rafters return from a swim when he apparently went to take a break. The lead tour guide would later say he was walking away from a cliff, and when he returned to look for Heimer, he was nowhere to be found. At first, no one was worried, since Heimer was experienced and knew the area. He was also wearing a life jacket, but when he didn’t return that evening for dinner, a search was called, but no trace of him was ever found.

Tom Messick

Tom Messick, 82, was hunting with a group on Lily Pond in New York on November 15, 2015, when he vanished. Messick, who had served in the 82nd Airborne Division as a paratrooper, was half deaf and missing an eye due to an explosion he suffered in his early 20s, but he was an avid and experienced hunter. Because of his disabilities, he was told to stay still while others in his group drove game toward him and several other elderly men. Somehow, Messick disappeared, and a search found neither him nor any of the belongings he had with him that day.

Floyd Roberts

Floyd Roberts, 52, regularly visited the Grand Canyon with his friend, Ned Bryant. In 2016, the duo once again went to the canyon, along with Bryant’s daughter. The three were hiking on a trail that split, with Bryant and his daughter taking one path with plans to meet up with Roberts at the other end.

But when the Bryants arrived at the other side, Roberts wasn’t there. They couldn’t find him when they hiked the path he had taken, and couldn’t find him back at their camp. They hiked until they could find cell service and reported their friend missing, but a search team found nothing.

Cian McLaughlin

Cian McLaughlin, 27, was an Ireland native visiting Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming in June 2021. He was reportedly heading toward Taggart Lake before he disappeared, and was only reported missing when he didn’t show up for work when he was supposed to return.

His car was found in the area he was last seen, and a search was called, but 45 helicopter searches and others found no trace of the man.

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