Into Thin Air: Unnerving Disappearances

Spanning across decades, there have been numerous cases in forests and national parks across America, in which campers and hikers go missing under baffling circumstances. Someone will be looking at a person, take their eye off them for a second, look back and they’re gone,never to be seen again, with absolutely no trace or remnants of them. A park ranger by the name of David Paulides has delved into many of these strange cases and named this mysterious phenomenon: Missing 411.


Something is hiding in the Smoky Mountains  

In 1946, 6-year old Dennis Martin and his father took a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains with many of their extended family and friends. One sunny day, Dennis and his cousins were playing Hide and Seek. Dennis’s father kept a very close eye on his son as the kids were playing. He watched Dennis walk behind a tree and hide there. When the game was over and Dennis had won, Dennis’s father began walking towards the same tree he watched Dennis hide behind a few minutes prior. Dennis’s father was absent of any worry, as he literally watched his son go behind the tree. He started yelling for his son to come out as he neared closer to the tree. Once at the tree, he looked behind it and Dennis was gone. Dennis’s father sprinted into the woods shouting for his son, eventually running two miles looking for him. 

The family of Dennis, now completely horrified, notifies park rangers and other authority figures as to what had just happened. A massive search ensues, close to 1,400 people were involved in the search, mapping the entire mountains on foot, in helicopter and with dogs. After 15 days of extensive and hypervigilant searching, all anyone was able to find was Dennis Martin’s shoe a few miles away from the site he vanished from. A family near the Martin’s campsite had reported seeing a large “Bear-Like” creature holding a small boy and galloping away into the forest about 100 Kilometers away.

To this day, there is no evidence or trace of the whereabouts of Dennis Martin, and a $5,000 dollar reward still stands for any new information.


Never camp where the animals cower

Kevin Robert O’Keefe was an avid outdoorsman, enthralled by the wonders of nature. He was very competent in the wilderness, and was equally as prepared for his trip to Glacier Bay, Alaska. Kevin took several survival classes and brought enough equipment and supplies for a month. Kevin planned on staying in Glacier Bay for two weeks and meet his wife at the same airport he left from. He notified the park rangers what he would be doing and for how long, and in no way was anyone worried about his safety or anything like that. Kevin’s plan was to get away from all technology and live amongst nature, so it wasn’t odd when Kevin didn’t text or call his wife during the 2 weeks he was there. A week passed and two days before Kevin planned on leaving, a few park rangers were patrolling Wolf’s Point, which is where Kevin told them he was staying. The park rangers decide while they’re there, they might as well check on Kevin. They take a detour to get to the campsite, and as they arrive, immediately they know something is wrong. 

There was a designated spot for a tent, however Kevin’s tent was a few meters below it, near the shore. They noticed that some of Kevin’s gear and supplies were strewn about, as they began investigating the site, they noticed the tent was still shut. They open up the tent and find Kevin’s bag with hiking equipment, food water still inside, as if Kevin just packed it for a hike up the mountain.The rangers rationalized this scene, assuming that Kevin went to get wood to build a fire and come back to go hiking. They knew how competent he was in the wilderness, so they didn’t fret or worry. They leave and come back the next day to discover there’s been absolutely no change to the tent or the site.

The same gear was in the same position, the tent was in the same spot and condition. This is when they become concerned. They believe a search is warranted, so about 100 park rangers with dogs searched not only Wolf’s Point, but Glacier Bay, and no sign of Kevin anywhere. Investigators searched Kevin’s campsite and noticed how everything you’d need to survive below freezing temperatures, like coats, food and water, was all at the site. The search continued for another two weeks, but with no success or any sign of Kevin, they were forced to call it off. 

The investigators were utterly perplexed at this situation, and weren’t able to hypothesize anything. It’s as if Kevin was taken off the face of the earth. The creepiest part however, is the fact that at the site, there was a copious amount of food out in the open, and no animals touched it. In fact there wasn’t any sign of life anywhere near the campsite, which means the animals, for whatever reason, were avoiding Kevin’s campsite.


Without a trace

There are over a thousand of these mysterious cases in national parks and wild forests, and simply no answer to where the missing have gone, or what happened to them. The wilderness is like the ocean, incredibly vast and unexplored. Things we can’t comprehend take place in these mountains. Things we can’t understand. If you plan on venturing into America’s forests and parks, don’t venture too deep.