The Case of the Missing Trail Runner

Kristin went over to Cougar Mountain (just outside of Bellevue) to go trail running Saturday morning and found the place crawling with King County Search and Rescue personnel (SAR). Apparently a man had gone running there Friday morning and never returned. His car was still at the trailhead and there was no sign of his whereabouts. Immediate thoughts were that he fell into a ditch or abandoned mine; that he had fallen victim to a cougar or bear attack; or that he had been abducted. Kristin ran her usual 13 miles on the very hilly, heavily wooded (and heavily travelled) network of trails making sure to keep an eye out for anyone who matched the photo the SAR folks had shown her, but she never saw him.

And neither did anyone else for more than 3 days.

The official search was called off Sunday night although volunteers and family members continued to comb the woods looking for the man. He showed up at home on Tuesday.

Despite having been clothed in lightweight running attire (the weather was nice on Friday), he had apparently survived 3 nights of rainy sub-50 degree weather in the woods by covering himself with leaves and a fallen log after falling into a ravine, hitting his head, and knocking himself unconscious. He was coherent enough to allegedly drink from the runoff pouring down the hillside and, I'm guessing here, maybe had an extra Powerbar or Gu in his pocket for food.

There is no further police investigation into the matter, as the King County Sherrif's Office said they will be taking his story "at face value".

This miraculous tale of survival in the woods was a topic of conversation during last night's mountain biking ride. Among the ten guys in attendance, many of whom know a bit about the Cougar Mountain area woods (he supposedly ran to nearby Squak Mountain, hence the failure of SAR and their dogs to find him) and about wilderness travel in general we were in unanimous opinion that, the runner, was to be perfectly blunt, full of it.

We don't know the man. We don't know his background. But we do know that it would be extremely difficult to survive 3 nights in the cold, wet forest wearing nothing but running attire. Oh, and I almost forgot, he didn't need any medical attention. No signs of hypothermia or severe dehydration or malnourishment. And no mention of a contussion or bruise or any other type of remnant from a blow to the head. He was, in a word, fine.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm really glad the guy is okay. I would have hated to ask Kristin to avoid the area for a while had it have turned out to be a cougar attack or foul-play. That being said, I'd like to have seen him checked for glitter. Or, perhaps, the faint scent of perfume and spilled champagne. And sex.

While I think it would be extremely and utterly stupid to use "Hey, honey, I'm going running I'll see you in a couple hours" as an alibi for shacking up with your mistress for three days, I find it even less likely that his story is true. After all, it's not Squak Mountain isn't well travelled either; surely somebody would have spotted him during one of his water-fetching exercises. Which also leaves nothing to be said of the fact that if he was coherent enough to find water and wasn't injured, then why didn't he just go home?

When he finally did feel good enough to come home on Tuesday morning he didn't head to the nearest road and wave down a passing car for assistance. He simply re-traced his steps all the way back to Cougar Mountain where he found that his car had been towed. He then walked 5 miles home into the waiting arms of his wife.

Somebody's got some 'splaining to do.


Anonymous said...

How do you propose checking the guy for glitter and sex?

Doug Walsh said...

I don't.

I'll leave that up to his wife's eyes and nose.