Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

10 Mysterious Disappearances in National Parks


3
John Devine, 1997
The dense foliage and rugged terrain of Olympic National Park has swallowed many hikers. Wolfgang Kaehler/Getty Images
The dense foliage and rugged terrain of Olympic National Park has swallowed many hikers. Wolfgang Kaehler/Getty Images

According to Peninsula Daily News, Olympic National Park in northern Washington state has a feature that's not as majestic as its mountain views. At least four hikers have mysteriously disappeared from the area in the past 25 years, one of whom was 73-year-old John Devine [source: Seabury]. In 1997, Devine planned to hike into the park from Mount Baldy.

The trail is a tough 24 miles (39 kilometers), and though Devine was elderly, he was also an experienced long-distance hiker. Devine was camping with his friend Greg Balzer; they split up on the day that Devine went missing. Balzer went off to hunt while Devine took off on a day hike [source:Macdonald]. Devine never returned.

The fruitless search for Devine lasted a full week until a rescue helicopter crash killed three people and injured five others. By that time, weather conditions had deteriorated, making the chances of finding Devine slim [source: Cavanagh]. Friends and family said that Devine wouldn't want to put people in danger on his behalf, and the search was called off.

The search helicopter's crash is as mysterious as Devine's disappearance. Before takeoff, the pilot used a hand signal indicating that he was going to wait five minutes for conditions to improve before attempting it. A moment later, the helicopter departed vertically without warning and crashed into the side of the mountain [source: Shimanski].