To the relief of family, friends and searchers, solo hiker Kelly Hall emerged Monday at a trailhead in Olympic National Park, four days later than planned from his wilderness backpacking trip. He had been reported missing and a search was launched for him.
Luckily, Hall was well-prepared to endure extra days in the wilderness and is well, although weary. Below is a description from Olympic National Park staff of what happened to Hall, a 64-year-old from Bainbridge Island:
“Kelly Hall, who had been missing for nearly four days in the northeast section of Olympic National Park, walked out to the Whiskey Bend Trailhead in the Elwha Valley. He is tired and has minor scrapes and bruises but is safe and well.
Hall was last seen by two other hikers in the Grand Valley area, about four miles from his starting point at Obstruction Point. Hall explained to searchers that he lost the trail in very foggy, rainy conditions in the area of Grand Pass and found himself heading west into the Lillian River drainage rather than into the Cameron Creek drainage as planned.
He explained that once he realized his mistake and was able to determine his location, he decided to continue hiking downstream along the Lillian River, knowing that he would eventually find the Lillian River Trail which would lead him to the Elwha River Trail and the Whiskey Bend Trailhead.
His ad hoc Lillian River route involved eight miles of extremely strenuous off-trail travel, which was much more rugged, difficult and time-consuming than Hall had anticipated, taking nearly four days longer than he had originally planned for his hike. He reached the Whiskey Bend Trailhead this morning, where he encountered a group of hikers who gave him a ride to the Elwha Ranger Station.
Hall was well-equipped with food, a water filter, maps and compass, the “10 Essentials” and appropriate gear.
“Wilderness users should always be ready to experience the wilderness on its own terms. Mr. Hall was ready, and was able to successfully reach safety and the road system on his own,” said Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum.
Hall began his hike on Saturday, August 30, setting out from the Obstruction Point Trailhead near Hurricane Ridge. Family members expected to meet him at the USFS Slab Camp Trailhead on Thursday afternoon.
Searchers who contributed to the effort include National Park Service employees and volunteers, an aircraft and crew from Washington State Patrol, and volunteers from Olympic Mountain Rescue, Clallam County Search and Rescue, German Shepherd Search Dogs, Kitsap County Search and Rescue and numerous community members.”