Author's Note: As much as I wanted to do this all in one post, I am afraid that it must be broken into multiple posts, or else it will, in essence, be a book. A book is too much for a blog post, and I don't want to lose you, my dear readers. So, please, enjoy this piecewise account of a very strange and complex case.
On Valentine’s Day in 2020, an elderly couple vacationing in Northern California went out for an evening hike and disappeared. They were found a week later, alive, wrapped in each other’s arms in a ravine less than a quarter-mile from a popular hiking trail, less than a half-mile from a busy road, and half a mile from their rental cottage. They’d survived by drinking muddy puddle-water and eating ferns, and were virtually unharmed aside from mild hypothermia, dehydration, and some cuts, scrapes, and bruises resulting from battling their way through the foliage.
Despite my tendency to steer clear of missing persons cases, I followed this case almost obsessively while it was unfolding in 2020. I couldn’t seem to leave it alone, and the more I learned, the more captivated I became. I think the initial intrigue was simply that the couple disappeared just across the San Francisco Bay—40 miles or so—from where I was living in 2020. But as the case dragged on and the details made less and less sense, I began to wonder if it weren’t bordering on Missing 411 territory. Having just learned about the Missing 411 book series by David Paulides and the CanAm Missing Project a month prior, my interest in the couple’s case grew to a toxic level, fueled by morbid excitement at the prospect of a Missing 411 case practically in my own backyard. That trail dried up pretty quick, though—the case doesn’t check all the Missing 411 boxes; it’s too “normal.” And yet, some of its details are just too bizarre to ignore.
This past Valentine’s Day marks the second-year anniversary of the couple’s disappearance, and this day, February 22, 2022, marks the two-year anniversary of their rescue. I haven’t gone a month without marveling about this case in two years. I doubt I will ever be able to put it to rest. However, after pouring over news articles, comments, details about the area where the couple disappeared, meteorological data, and exploring that part of California both physically and on Google Maps, I have, at the very least, managed to gain enough information to provide a satisfactory discussion with regards to the case’s loose ends. And so, I present to you, in the next post, all the background information you'll need before I get into the couple’s story, their rescuers’ story, and my analysis and conclusions.