"The not-knowing. That's the mental and emotional cancer.
.... The not-knowing is mad-making."
No one knows how many people go missing in North America's National Parks or other wilderness areas every year. There's no list or database. But I bet the number is higher than anyone thinks. After all, there's a lot of forest and wilderness in America. Over 800 million acres. Even in Utah, where I live, hikers, campers and hunters go missing every year in our mountains. Most are found. But not all. Some just vanish.
In early April 2017, Jacob Gray's bicycle and gear were found near the Sol Duc River in Olympic National Park in Washington. There was no sign of Jacob. In The Cold Vanish, Jon Billman chronicles the search for Jacob over the following weeks and months. He also writes about other cold vanishings across North America and what makes the searches for these missing people so difficult. And so puzzling. Some of these mysteries have sad endings, but many are never solved.
I found this book fascinating. Jon Billman is a gifted writer and natural storyteller. And the stories of all the missing are sometimes heartbreaking, often mystifying, and always compelling. If I decide to do a list of my favorite nonfiction reads of 2021, this book will definitely be near the top.