The Cold Vanish

I’ve occasionally posted what I think of as “Lost in the Woods” stories here for reasons already explained. Beyond that I think survival stories, whether successful or not, hold a certain fascination for anyone who even occasionally wanders off pavement.

In pondering these sad tales my focus has always been on the hapless adventurer and his or her struggles. But intertwined with that story are the experiences and emotions of a whole cast of rescuers, relatives and loved ones whose lives are affected by the event.

When the lost is never found quick or dead, an element of eerie mystery is added to the appeal.

The Cold Vanish is built around the narrative of one man’s search for his missing son. It’s no accident this heroic quest began in Washington’s Olympic National Park. With author Jon Billam riding shotgun as his Sancho Panza, Randy Gray’s obsessive determination to find his 22-year-old son Jacob takes him from the frigid depths of a snow-fed stream to the surfing beaches of central California and on to the secluded retreats of religious cults in the San Juan Islands. He meets a man who trains bloodhounds, a woman who feeds powdered donuts to a family of Sasquatch (or are they raccoons?), and a host of other colorful characters.

Along the way Billam digresses into other disappearances and the frustrating searches that follow, providing a basic education in the art and science of Search and Rescue.

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