Sam Dubal, 33, departed for an overnight hike on Oct. 9 in Mount Rainier National Park.
When Dubal didn’t show up at the University of Washington for his Monday morning class and meetings, the National Park Service started a search, with help from the FBI and military.
After a nine-day search in difficult conditions, the effort has been suspended, but Dubal’s family believes it’s too soon to stop, especially with the weather improving over the next few days.They started a petition on Thursday asking that rescue teams continue searching.
“We are so grateful to the brave searchers and the expertise of the NPS – they are who you want to search for you – but to stop at Day Nine is too early,” Dena Dubal, Sam’s sister, told Fox News. “Sam is fit, he has all the gear on him for rain and snow. He has a tent on him. He has camped in the Himalayas, so this is too early.”
“We implore the Mount Rainier National Park Service, [NPS Acting Director] Margaret Everson and President Donald Trump, to please reactivate the search for Sam.”
Dena Dubal says that when the family received updates throughout the search, they were always given the caveat that searchers “did the best we could, but it was limited by the elements.” Of the nine days of searching, Dubal says that only one day had clear weather.
Dubal is adamant that her brother has a fighting chance because he regularly hikes and camps in dangerous conditions.
As a medical anthropologist, his work takes him to areas such as rural Uganda, Brazil or the Himalayas. Dubal says her brother had already undertaken several such trips this year despite the pandemic, visiting Mexico and working his way up and down California.
Sam Dubal recently accepted a post as an anthropology professor at the University of Washington and moved to the area on July 1. He has camped in the Seattle area a few times already as he explored the area and settled.
“This is his thing,” Dena Dubal said of her brother. “He even had an ice axe with him because it was predicted to be bad weather – and the guide book suggested it.”
Dubal described her brother as a careful person, saying that he would send his family an itinerary, the trail he is going on and a PDF of any book he used, “just to be safe.”
A few weeks before his most recent hike, Dubal said her brother had hiked in a more difficult area and had enjoyed it so much that he was seeking a similar experience.
“He sent us a lot of pictures from it,” Dubal said. “He was settling well into the area and getting to know the nature there, as he has in other parts of the world – he’s experienced, he’s fit, he’s smart.”
Perhaps due to the pandemic, Sam Dubal had undertaken the most recent hikes and trips alone.
Dena Dubal wondered if her brother had extended his Ranier trip after not hearing from him over the initial weekend, but realized that something had gone wrong when students and faculty at his university reached out in search of him.
A search started immediately, with some optimistic signs along the way.
“Through a concerted effort of the community, family and friends, it was discovered that a very unique water bottle that was his was found three-fourths of the way around the trail beyond his overnight stop, so we know he made it most of the way around the trail,” Dubal said.
She wondered if the bottle was placed as a marker for her brother to follow if he got lost on a part of the trail that was known to be more difficult – an area where some hikers have been known to get lost.
“He made it into town, his car was parked near the trail, he was spotted by several people on the first part of the trail,” Dubal added.
“He is clever, he is beloved by so many, he is a lover of nature, and he is in wonder and awe of where he is right now. He is struggling and he needs our help.”
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