Update: 2:30 p.m. | The 19-year-old woman missing while on a naked hike in Southwest Washington’s Gifford Pinchot National Forest is “a very laid-back, carefree girl,” according to her half-sister, Cheri Kaupu of Vancouver.
Kaupu said her missing half-sister, Maureen Kelly, phoned her shortly before heading into the national forest.
“She called me before she left to go camping with friends and asked if she could borrow some camping gear,” Kaupu said. ”She was excited about going … she told me she loved me. That’s normal for her. She’s an affectionate person.”
Kaupu said Kelly made no mention of plans to go alone on a hike without clothes, in what acquaintances described to authorities as a “spiritual quest.”
“That concerns me,” Kaupu said. Kelly has been missing since Sunday evening.
Awaiting word on the search, which resumed at 8 a.m. today, Kaupu said, “I’m being strong for my mom. She’s taking this really hard.”
Amanda Ziegler of Vancouver, who’s been friends with Kelly for about a year, said she wouldn’t be surprised to hear that Kelly had gone on a “spiritual quest.”
But Ziegler said she was surprised and concerned to hear Kelly went into the woods naked and alone.
“It’s strange because she would know better than to go out unprepared like that,” Ziegler said. “It doesn’t make sense.”
Ziegler said that both she and her boyfriend have previously spent time in the area where Kelly was last seen. She said her boyfriend is headed to the camping area where Kelly disappeared to assist in the search for their friend. “It’s really cold here and pouring rain … I’m worried.”
The missing woman, who calls herself “Anu,” wrote on Facebook that her occupation was “guru” at “Spreading the Love.” On June 6 she posted a picture with the caption “There is no path to happiness. Happiness is the path.” On her YouTube page, Kelly posted videos of herself playing ukulele and beatboxing, a form of making percussion sounds with one’s voice and mouth.
Skamania County Undersheriff Dave Cox said vehicles are being used in the search today. He described the terrain as mountains with heavy timber and brush.
Seattle Times staff reporter Jack Broom and news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report.