Friday, August 20, 2021

The Cold Vanish - Jon Billman

The Cold Vanish: Seeking the Missing in North America's Wilderness by Jon Billman makes for fascinating reading.

"These are the stories that defy conventional logic. The proverbial vanished without a trace incidences, which happen a lot more (and a lot closer to your backyard) than almost anyone thinks. These are the missing whose situations are the hardest on loved ones left behind. The cases that are an embarrassment for park superintendents, rangers and law enforcement charged with Search & Rescue. The ones that baffle the volunteers who comb the mountains, woods and badlands. The stories that should give you pause every time you venture outdoors."

The disappearance of Jacob Gray in Olympic National Park is explored in depth as his father Randy invites Jon to be part of the search. That search utilizes any and all leads and means, including some that could be termed 'out there'. Randy's determination to find his son is tireless and heartbreaking. The reader is privy to the intimate details of the search for Jacob.

The sheer number of people who go missing, fall off the radar and disappear every year in national parks and wilderness areas surprised me. Also surprising is the lack of a centralized database for those missing in the wild to the difference in search and rescue protocols and the wildly varied responses of the parks. 

Other cases are interspersed throughout the book as well. It is eye opening to see how fast an afternoon hike can go wrong. A side trail, a wrong turn and no gear can be a death sentence. And on the flip side, there are those who choose to walk away and disappear into the wild. And another chilling avenue - humans can be as deadly as the wildlife.

The Cold Vanish was dense reading and addressed heavy subject matters, so I didn't read it straight through, instead opting to read a few chapters at a time. My heart is with those who are searching for loved one. 

If you've enjoyed  Jon Krakauer's books, you'll enjoy The Cold Vanish. Read an excerpt.


Ethan said...

This sounds like a pretty heavy but fascinating read!

Mystica said...

Intriguing read.

Luanne said...

Ethan and Mystica - Exactly!