The Cold Vanish: Seeking the Missing in North America’s Wildlands by Jon Billman (Mini Review)

I was sitting on the porch of our family cabin reading this book… and all of a sudden a speedy red helicopter ripped over my head. I had heard that there was a missing hiker one canyon over, but this may have been for another emergency. The Sierra Nevada range in dangerous. An injury that usually only needs a quick trip to the emergency room can turn into a life or death situation. A fall. A slip. A medical emergency… The book tells among others of a hiker in Olympic Nat Park, a runner in Colorado, and a man who disappears at Mesa Verde National Park

Billman’s book relates several instances of missing persons, mostly in the western states. As much a piece of self-discovery and travel log as an investigation into the reasons people go missing. Billman looks at search techniques, the numbers, the logistics and politics surrounding designated lands (NPS, NFS, BLM, and state parks). He meets up and works with some real characters: a man whose side gig is searching for Bigfoot and a man who owns one of the best bloodhounds around.

The Cold Vanish is a good book, but I couldn’t finish it. There were several other helicopters that flew over in the next couple of days… it was distracting and after the first stories I felt I knew enough about the topic that I moved on. I got the gist of the book and was tired.

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