If you want to disappear, America’s public lands are a great place to do it. In State and National-Parks, -Forests, -Monuments, and Wildernesses across the country, on the Bureau of Land Management’s land, and elsewhere it’s becoming almost commonplace for people to simply vanish into thin air, up in smoke, without a trace, never to be heard from again (or even ever found).
And the feds are keeping their mouths shut about it. They don’t want to talk about the ever-escalating number unsolved disappearances happening on public land on their watch. Which is not only raising questions, but suspicions, red flags and conspiracy-erections as well. At least for anyone with open eyes. Some will brush this all off as “outdoor accidents,” and “a lot of space to lose someone,” or “lions,” “tigers,” and “bears.” A lot of people will shrug their shoulders in dismissal.
But to the keen-eyed observer it’s not a question of whether something is awry here — out there, in the wilderness we all technically own — but What? and Why doesn’t the government seem to care?
One-thousand and six-hundred and counting…
That’s how many people have disappeared without trace on public land in the US. Or, at least, that’s our best estimate.
1,600 is the number reported in a series of books written by – and stick with me, here — a renowned bigfoot hunter named David Paulidas. He’s an ex-cop-turned-‘journalist’ who once talked with a National Park Ranger who told him that NPS was doing everything they could to keep a lid on this story: that people were vanishing like cookies on Christmas morning all over America’s National Parks.
Paulidas didn’t believe him at first, but looked into it and ended up writing fifteen books over ten years on the subject. Paulidas found hundreds upon hundreds of cases that don’t make a lick of goddamned sense — where rational, capable, functionally equipped outdoor enthusiasts stepped away from their friends for mere seconds and vanished forever. Never to be found by hikers, Rangers, Search and Rescue crews, cadaver dogs or grief-obsessed-parents.
Subsequently, Paulidas and other journalists assailed the NPS, Forest Service, and other organizations with FOIA Requests, Media Requests, and accusations — demanding they release their actual list of unsolved disappearances. They keep close track of grizzly bear, wolf and yellow-throated loon populations, after all. They had to be keeping track of how many human beings were going missing out there.
Examples of missing cases
Stacy Ann Arras, 1981 – Yosemite National Park
Arras arrived with seven others at Sunrise High Sierra Campground on horseback. Arras, 14 at the time, walked to a nearby bluff to look at a lake. The group’s tour guide saw her standing on a rock about 50 feet away and then, no one ever saw her again. Her body was never found despite immediate and massive investigative efforts.
Drake Cramer, 2015 – Grand Canyon National Park
Cramer had just gone to see a movie with his parents, who said he was in “good spirits.” But they never saw him again. They later received this text message from his phone: “he had to give his body to mother Earth.” Then his car was discovered in Grand Canyon National park by Rangers — Cramer himself remains “missing” today.
Gilbert Gilman, 2006 – Olympic National park
A Park Ranger who told Gilman to turn his music down, was the last person to ever see him. The ex-Army paratrooper, turned high ranking UN official/political advisor had arrived at Staircase Rapids trailhead. Then, supposedly, went hiking on the extremely mild trail and vanished forever. no evidence of him or his body has ever been discovered.
What could be the cause?
Rabid hillbillys: This is America, and we’ve got a hillbilly problem. Always have. And you never know what kinds of crazy incestual shit those moonshiners are getting up to out there. Mass abduction… Murder… Cannibalism… Devil worship…
Disappearing on purpose: We don’t know how many of these missing people vanished on public land on purpose — but it’s a good idea. If you need to fake your own death, our National Parks are the place to do it.
Serial killing woodsman: Legends like “Hatchie the Hatchet Man” and the “Campground Killer” are often rooted in truth. Could public land be infested with serial killers who know it’s where they can get away with murder?
The Parks are in on it: I wouldn’t put it past Smokey the Bear to have some serious fucking skeletons in his closet. Possibly even 1,600 of them.
Paulidas’ search for missing people has yet to identify a culprit — though he seems bent on pointing fingers at Bigfoot or extra-terrestrials.
However, he did discover something tangible and disturbing: US public land management services don’t actually know how many people they’ve lost and never found out there. That was the truthful answer they gave, when Paulidas and all those journalists started looking into this black hole.
“We don’t know.” They answered, every time someone asked. “We don’t keep track of that number.”
Which is almost as unsettling as the idea that rabid cannibal hillbillies have infested our woods.