Found Alive UT - Holly Suzanne Courtier, 38, Zion National Park, 6 Oct 2020

Discussion in 'Located Persons Discussion' started by doublestop, Oct 10, 2020.

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  1. iamnotagolem

    iamnotagolem Well-Known Member

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    I hope you are right but it seems like this is anything but a lost/accident case.

    - left her phone in California
    - made no safety plan
    Those both really point to intent, IMO.

    I think if she indeed just planned to do a 3 hour hike, she wouldn’t have a huge pack, she would have been seen by multiple people and would have been found by now.

    At this point the best case scenario is she wanted to disappear, that she had arranged for someone to meet her and transport her from that location. This would at least mean she’s alive.
     
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  2. Satchie

    Satchie Well-Known Member

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    All good points, but still keeping my fingers crossed for a rescue.
     
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  3. metal10

    metal10 Well-Known Member

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    Agreed, except that she did not need to say it - unless she did not want to be seen to be on her way to doing something completely different. This isn’t that far fetched if she did care about those around her. It also might serve a more practical purpose. It also would make the odd or contradictory set of gear, lack of phone, lack of itinerary, lost job, and so on, make a lot of sense whereas nothing else really does so far, at least not made public, or so it seems to me anyway. I do know a little bit about Zion and Springdale, and I’d like to think she met someone in September and decided to go back there and incognito for a while (after all, there is a lot of natural beauty to visit much closer to the west coast where she was if she wanted to set off on a series of park visits, and she already had been to Zion v recently), but it seems more than just plausible that she saw something about Zion in September that looked like it would make a good place to finally rest.

    I will not be surprised if one of the mods deletes this. Please don’t hesitate if this is out of line. I am not 100% clear on the rules, but this could look like blame when actually I have only empathy for what could have been her state of mind and seems roughly in agreement with what’s been made public.

    All the observations about her gear look valid but don’t seem to fit with everything else.
     
  4. PayrollNerd

    PayrollNerd Well-Known Member

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    I know zero about hiking packs so correct me if this is an inaccurate assumption or thought. She is a small woman and the pack was big. Is it possible she could fit inside that pack? If she were contemplating suicide, could the part that she feared be the animal/insect activity on her body? Thus taking whatever drug she chose and crawling inside the pack make her feel better? What if she got inside the pack on the very edge of a cliff, could she roll herself over the edge?
     
  5. iamnotagolem

    iamnotagolem Well-Known Member

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    If that was the case, then all of her gear would be abandoned somewhere. The camo hammock though, it could conceal her and the pack.
     
  6. 10ofRods

    10ofRods Verified Anthropologist

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    If she planned to backpack, she should have (by park policy) pulled a wilderness permit - but she didn't. So she's one of those "my own rules" campers, IMO. Lots them (have been one myself, way in the past).

    To me, it sounds like instagram staging. She didn't expect to remain out there and use the hammock, she was hoping to set up a shoot, show how she set it up, show herself relaxing - maybe even into the evening.

    It's really awful that they don't know exactly where she went - but if she knew Zion, as her family claims, she'd know there are a few places to hang a hammock - not in the narrows of any hike, of course, but closer to the Valley, where the trees are. It's concerning that she appears not to have done that.
     
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  7. mrstfs

    mrstfs Well-Known Member

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    After looking at the help find holly website, it’s not clear to me if any of the campgrounds have been searched.

    I’m seeing lots of hammocks in the Watchman Campground on Instagram.
     
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  8. 10ofRods

    10ofRods Verified Anthropologist

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    I'm reading the thread through from the beginning - but wanted to say those shuttles are packed. Even in the off season, even during Covid at half capacity, with 30-40 people going off in different directions. Shuttle drivers are focused on operating the shuttle properly, which is why the NPS clearly states that one should either file an itinerary with a ranger or give one's family the itinerary.

    Shuttle drivers may remember a person, but to associate trip details with that person? That's not what they are supposed to do - and they don't. They are bombarded with questions at the beginning and end of every trip, people are unhappy about the schedule, etc.

    As to other park guests, I visit NParks regularly and my focus is not on memorizing the faces of other people - at all. Most people don't even spend much time looking at other people, groups keep to themselves even before CoVid. Also, the place is vast.

    People might remember "young woman with brown hair" - maybe, especially if they are young guys eyeing all the women. But, in experiment after experiment in public settings, unless a person does something unusual, no one notices them well enough to place them later.

    If the hike is isolated - maybe some people will remember. However, even then, people will only remember "solo female" and that results in lots of reports.
     
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  9. 10ofRods

    10ofRods Verified Anthropologist

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    More likely to have caught a photo with her in the background than to remember her. Memory studies in situations like this are not promising, although Holly may have stood out to some people.

    It is very crowded, though, so maybe some pictures will pop up.

    They simply don't know. There are thousands of people entering the park per day. And very few staff. National parks do not have webcams, generally.

    I thought that was Horseshoe Bend - Lake Powell tributary. It's a classic instagrammer pose. I am assuming she set it up herself (tripod). The family could confirm whether that was her MO. It seems she was a solo traveler.

    There are over 200 sparsely populated square miles in Zion NP.
     
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  10. mickey2942

    mickey2942 Well-Known Member

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    There is a difference between hiking to, say, Emerald Pools, and serious hiking off trail. People don't need to be ready for all potential emergencies on a well traveled trail that is less than 2 miles.

    The problem is that we have no clue where Holly went, if she met up with someone, what her plans were, where she was staying, or planning on going next.
     
  11. 10ofRods

    10ofRods Verified Anthropologist

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    Or...she wanted to disappear without consciously thinking about disappearing for real (like E. Ruess).

    I think there's a chance that she's alive - a hammock and regular clothes/light jacket would be enough. And a seasoned hiker would know how to get water, even in Zion in the autumn.

    But...if she hasn't been seen by all the people who are on all the main trails/in the main backpacking areas, that's really worrying. NP/Federal LE do not always approach such missing persons as possible crimes, right away. Suicide in the parks is more common than homicide.

    However, it's a long time to make her family worry.

    I appreciate you so much. I'm so sorry about your friend. I used to have that trail on my bucket list, but no more (trick knee - all it would take is one misstep).

    If she decided to try a hammock pose on Angel's Trail, that's worrying (people do try it though - always better with 2 people, see Death in Grand Canyon for analysis). Yet, it seems she was into instagram poses, so I worry - will instagramers ever hear about the dangers?

    Everyone thinks that if they're young, active and strong, they're okay. But balance in high places has many aspects and veteran climbers (advanced beyond hikers) are still known to make errors.
     
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  12. mickey2942

    mickey2942 Well-Known Member

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    I saw the picture of her on her Facebook page, looked pretty close to the edge to me. Lots of places in Zions NP to get that "perfect" picture...until you slip.

    I will stick with Photoshopping my "perfect" pictures.
     
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  13. RickshawFan

    RickshawFan Verified Outdoor Recreation Specialist

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    Oh, gosh....
    I can't tell exactly what size the one is in the photos. Tops 75 liters. But she could have had the men's. That's about as large as any woman can safely carry. On a petite woman, it would tower over your head. If you didn't know how to pack it, you could easily topple. I once hiked with a guy (90 years old, yep) for a few weeks, and a couple of times he slipped and ended up on his back like an upside down turtle. He had the 50 liter version. There he was waving his arms and legs about. It makes you helpless. He almost slipped over the edge. I had to haul him back.
    And if you put heavy stuff too high in the pack....?
    So, no need to be deliberate on this possibility.
     
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  14. 10ofRods

    10ofRods Verified Anthropologist

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    Doesn't look like blame to me - at all. There are only a handful of possible mind-states here, as you say.

    Maybe she did meet someone prior - or during.

    Maybe it's a day trip gone awry (most common situation).

    Maybe it was a suicide-venture (people can sometimes become high risk-takers, it's considered a form of self-harm in psychiatry).

    To me, it looks like a young woman planned a trip to Zion, but did not use all the safety basics.
    I'm guessing she was planning on going back to SoCal. But did she have someone to meet up with? Dunno, but better to meet before getting on the shuttle, too many possibilities for wrong communication.

    To me, it looks like she expected just a day trip, with photos. Did someone follow her? How long did they follow her? To me, this looks like it also be foul play.
     
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  15. 10ofRods

    10ofRods Verified Anthropologist

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    It's so unlikely to me that she had the men's. Today's women are purchasing women-specific packs that conform to their body contours. That Osprey pack would like be for women - but even if for men, Ospreys are built light.
     
  16. 10ofRods

    10ofRods Verified Anthropologist

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    Me too.

    But given Holly's previous postings of pictures, it would not surprise me if she chose an out-of-the-way hammock spot (hopefully not strung on crumbly sandstone).

    Unless a person lives in a region and hikes locally, a lot (like William Shatner), I don't regard them as "experienced." I am "experienced" in two locales (my home town and Sequoia NP). That doesn't extend to Zion (where I've hiked several times - but my friend from Utah is way, way more experienced there).
     
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  17. mickey2942

    mickey2942 Well-Known Member

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    I hate to think that, but it is a possibility. Especially because she is so petite. One thing I have noticed about women men prey on, they are usually on the petite side. Holly is very similar in size to Mollie Tibbetts, college student slain in Iowa. Mollie was 5'2" and 120 pounds. Mollie Tibbetts Wiki (Missing Iowa Student)| Biography| Height| Age| Boyfriend| Family
     
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  18. RickshawFan

    RickshawFan Verified Outdoor Recreation Specialist

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    That's true, but you wouldn't believe how many women have the men's. They just don't know.... And this was a very inexperienced hiker, despite the claims she's "experienced". This is always what is said about missing hikers. IMO

    More often than one would imagine, women go for men's packs 'cos they like the color. I always get surprised. But I will also say, once I get them in a pack that fits, they are amazed how much better it feels! And they are so thankful.

    I've done, like, a thousand pack fits. For real. I also train pack fitters.
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2020
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  19. 10ofRods

    10ofRods Verified Anthropologist

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    ITA agree about people constantly labeled "experienced hikers" when, to me, that means hiking some 3-4 month out of the year (I know people who do this).

    I'm an experienced hiker, but my family would probably not emphasize that. Of course, I always leave multiple ways of finding out where I was going to go and I know my liters from pounds. I'm taller and bigger than Holly - if she had a men's pack, it was to carry a bunch of non-essentials.

    Key thing is: did she have a fanny pack or sling with the actual essentials? No one has said or seems to know. I think we can guess she had a tripod (so do I, but I don't take it on hikes - although...I might consider it in future on a day hike - there's money to be made in that domain and I might need some retirement income).

    If one's family is not experienced in hiking, they have no idea that that means. My compass broke about 5 years ago and I didn't replace it (we got a new one this week - so I do not regard myself as an "experienced" hiker).

    Missing hikers are rarely actually experienced. The number 1 reason why women end up in dire circumstances (injured/dead) in the wilderness is...photo taking.

    Ghighlieri, a ranger from Grand Canyon, working with years of stats, concludes that over and over.

    For men, it's going off to a ledge to relieve themselves or to gaze at something. Someone just died in Sedona in that circumstance (Boynton Canyon).
     
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  20. flower_girl

    flower_girl Active Member

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    I hiked Angel's Landing a few years ago in December. While I was on my way up, search and rescue were carrying one body off the trail and someone else found a different body at the bottom of a trail. One of them was someone who lived right near the park and went there all the time if I remember correctly. I hiked ~1 mile in on a few other trailheads and even on the easy ones it would be very easy to get injured or lost. As an experienced hiker, Zion is no joke.
     
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