Yosemite Blog posted an announcement yesterday that Joshua Gunther, 34, was supposed to be out of the park Sunday after a weeklong backpacking trip from the Ostrander Lakes trail head. The announcement says only that he acquired a permit to enter the Yosemite Backcountry via the Ostrander Lakes Trail but does not say that he actually entered there. All we have is the license tag for his 2000 Nissan (California 8D15054) — and no word on whether it’s been sighted. In addition to the picture, he’s described as 5 foot 11 inches, 190 pounds, with short spiky brown hair, and brown eyes.
If you’re hiking in Yosemite in the next few days (assuming he isn’t found) you’ll find people at trailheads with his picture and this announcement asking for your help. If you’ve been hiking anywhere near Ostrander Lake since June 27, the Park Service needs to hear from you at 209-379-1992. Doesn’t matter whether you think you saw him — if you saw nothing last Wednesday, for instance, it’s still a clue about where the guy wasn’t.
I put together this Google map of the trails coming out of the Ostrander Lake Trail Head. He could have covered an enormous amount of ground in a week, particularly if he’s an ultralighter. The campground icon is for Ostrander Lake — a very popular backpacking destination that I presume anybody planning a week in the Yosemite backcountry would avoid. If my legs were up for it I’d be thinking about getting over to the Clark Range to the east and perhaps hiking up to Red Peak Pass, then returning on the Illouette Creek Trail perhaps up to Glacier Point and taking a shuttle back to the trailhead. Looks doable in a week.
View Ostrander Lakes vicinity — Yosemite in a larger map
Another option: a loop around Buena Vista Peak — there’s a bunch of alpine lakes down there that would seem to entice a backpacker not into seeing how many miles he can cover.
I’m hoping that by the time I post this he’ll have been found and I’ve gone to all this work for naught. Well, not exactly naught: now I know where I want to go backpacking in Yosemite: I can’t imagine this southern section of the park gets much traffic so it might well be an excellent adventure.
I poked around at most of the outdoors boards to see if any clues could be gleaned, but came up dry. If you’ve seen anything, please leave link in the comments.
I do recall that on one Yosemite day hike, the park staff was on the lookout for a guy who’d been missing a couple days. Turned out he had twisted his ankle pretty badly and just waited it out a couple days till he felt like he could walk on it again. After that he just hiked on out to the trail head. Let’s hope for a similar outcome here.