|NATIONAL PARKS QUICKLINKS|
Backpacker Magazine – November 2009
Lost? Murdered? When the wilderness swallows people without a trace, who's to say what happened?
There are plenty of good reasons to hike Vermont's 272-mile Long Trail. It's the country's oldest long-distance path and still one of the hardest. And it takes you over Glastenbury Mountain, site of the backcountry's most bizarre–and still unexplained–case of missing hikers. Between 1945 and 1950, five people disappeared in the area. Amazingly, three of them were walking with other hikers when they momentarily slipped out of sight–only to vanish forever. Only the remains of one, Frieda Langer, were ever found; her decomposed body was discovered one year after she disappeared, in an area that had been exhaustively searched.
Despite thorough investigations at the time, no one has ever discovered who, or what, was responsible. Theories range from inter-dimensional portals (really) to sinkholes that swallowed the victims whole (not kidding) to a Bigfoot-like creature called the Bennington Monster (yup) to, disturbingly, a serial killer dubbed the Mad Murderer of the Long Trail (yikes). Check it out on a hike to Glastenbury's 3,748-foot summit: backpacker.com/longtrail
In September 2007, Schoch finished a weeklong trek in Alaska's Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. But when his bush plane arrived–a day late due to weather–the 68-year-old was gone. Though his camp was in order, Schoch was never found, despite the open tundra surrounding the pass.
He went camping in a remote area of the Adirondacks in June 2006. When he failed to return, searchers found his kayak and undisturbed camp–and nothing else.
In August 2007, this well-equipped hiker started a weeklong trek in Glacier National Park. He vanished on the first day, and despite the detailed itinerary he left, searchers found no body, not even a clue.