The Clallam County Sheriff’s Office search and rescue team and volunteers prepared to look for missing camper Jacob Gray on Saturday. (Clallam County Sheriff’s Office)

West side of Sol Duc River combed for signs of missing Bellevue man

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK — The active search for a missing Bellevue man switched to Clallam County Search and Rescue on Saturday as the trail led out of the national park into National Forest Service land.

Jacob Gray’s gear was found 10 days earlier on the east side of the Sol Duc River.

Gray, 22, went missing April 5 when he left a relative’s Port Townsend residence on a bicycle towing a trailer full of camping gear, according to his family.

The bike and camping gear were found April 6 about 6.5 miles up Sol Duc Hot Springs Road in Olympic National Park.

“We haven’t found anything yet,” Clallam County Sheriff’s Office Chief Criminal Deputy Brian King said Saturday afternoon.

Olympic National Park transitioned Friday to a “limited continuous search,” meaning that rangers will follow up on clues but are no longer actively looking for Gray.

“I want to thank those involved in the search and express compassion for Jacob’s loved ones during these very trying days,” Olympic National Park Acting Superintendent Lee Taylor said in a Friday statement.

The focus of the search has shifted to the west side of the Sol Duc River on Forest Service land.

Clallam County Search And Rescue, or SARs, teams and a cadre of volunteers conducted a Saturday sweep of the terrain west of the river.

“We’re searching the area to the west of the park in the (Olympic) National Forest,” King said. “That area has not been searched by the park since it was outside their jurisdiction.

“There were quite a few volunteers showing up out there, along with our crew,” King added.

Plans for a Sunday search hinged on the progress that crews made Saturday.

Gray’s mother, Laura Gray, has said her son may have slipped on a mossy rock into the east side of the river and made his way to shore on the west bank.

Crews found one-week-old footprints in the roots of tree that had partially fallen into the river. The footprints went toward the west bank.

A U.S. Forest Service road follows the Sol Duc River corridor for a “significant distance” on its west and south sides, King said.

“If he did cross the river, he would have hit road,” King said.

Gray has been described as an experienced outdoorsman.

He is 5-foot-11, 145 pounds and has brown hair and brown eyes.

Anyone with information about Gray’s whereabouts is asked to call Olympic National Park at 360-565-3115.

Here is a timeline of the search for Gray as provided by Olympic National Park.

• April 6: Olympic National Park visitors discover Gray’s bicycle and camping gear along Sol Duc Hot Springs Road. Rangers conduct a hasty search near the bicycle, including the bank of the river.

• April 7: Rangers contact Gray’s family and widen their search to include the Sol Duc Hot Springs Road corridor.

• April 8 to Monday: Rangers concentrate their search around the river, which was running “fast, cold and high.”

• Tuesday: The Olympic Mountain Rescue team joins the search.

• Wednesday: Olympic Mountain Rescue extends the search to the west side of the river outside the park in a four-square-mile area.

• Thursday: A search dog team from Everett Mountain Rescue searches the west bank of the river.

• Friday: Operations shift to a limited continuous search.

• Saturday: Clallam County Search And Rescue and volunteers search the area west of the river.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

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