Family members report that Jacob Gray might have grabbed onto this rock on the Sol Duc River.

Dog team searches Sol Duc area for missing hiker

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK — A dog team was scheduled to search the west side of the Sol Duc River on Thursday evening, a week after a 22-year-old Port Townsend man’s bike and camping gear was found near the river.

An Olympic National Park official said a crew of about four to six people were searching the west side of the Sol Duc River, opposite the bank where Jacob Gray’s bike and camping gear was found.

Olympic National Park visitors found the bike and camping gear April 6 about 6.5 miles up Sol Duc Hot Springs Road, said Lee Snook, chief of interpretation and education for the park.

The area that crews are concentrating on is adjacent to Olympic National Forest land, Snook said.

“That is the one place we’ve seen any human indications,” she said.

She said there were signs of human activity, though it might have been fishermen or others along the river.

The park has asked volunteers not to search the area so as not to disturb it, she said.

Gray’s mother, Laura Gray — who is involved in the search — believes her son might have slipped into the river on the east side while filtering water and exited on the west bank of the river.

“Evidence points that he may have slipped on some mossy rocks by where the bike was parked,” she said.

Crews found footprints in the roots of a tree that had fallen partially across the river, Laura Gray said. The footprints went toward the west bank.

She said search and rescue crews estimated the footprints to be about a week old.

Snook said there was no evidence that the hiker came up onto the west bank, adding that searchers had seen a lot of foot traffic.

Jacob Gray, described by his uncle as an avid outdoorsman, left Port Townsend alone on his bicycle April 5 towing a trailer full of camping gear.

Gray’s aunt, Elise Stokes, said she is concerned because he has been missing for over a week and has no provisions.

“This is a person’s life at stake,” she said.

Laura Gray said she’s struggled to even function over the past week, not knowing where her son was.

“We’re all scared and concerned and doing everything we can to make sure every possible resource and everything we can do can be done,” she said.

She said she was surprised at the response from the community.

“All these different people are stepping up,” she said. “That’s pretty encouraging.”

Gray is white, 5-foot-11, weighs about 145 pounds and has brown hair and brown eyes.

Snook said anyone with information about Gray’s whereabouts should call the park at 360-565-3115.

________

Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at jmajor@peninsuladailynews.com.

According to family members, Gray might have fallen into the swollen Sol Duc River and climbed out via some fallen tree roots. Footprints in the area are believed to be about a week old.

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