Missing hiker Laura Macke

Woman missing 5 days is experienced hiker

Family members gather to be close to search

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK — Laura Macke came out to Olympic National Park from Vermont specifically to hike the Enchanted Valley Trail, her brother-in-law said Sunday.

“She was looking for a vacation and a new place to hike and she wanted to hike in the Northwest,” said Timothy Gaskill, who is married to Laura’s sister, Carmella.

“She found a hike that was challenging yet not insane,” he said.

Sunday was the fifth day of a search for the 35-year-old woman, who’s family reported her missing Wednesday morning.

Despite the use of canine teams, helicopters, even a boat crew, as well as search and rescue teams on the ground — 18 of them out today — the only thing that has been found was her rental car at the parking lot of the Graves Creek Trailhead on Wednesday ,Gaskill said.

“So far, they have not found a single thing,” he said.

Macke was traveling solo with an intended route to the Enchanted Valley, stopping to camp at Pyrites Creek, Meagan Huff, park spokesperson, has said. Her backcountry permit was for Oct. 30-31, but she had told family members she planned to remain in the valley through Nov. 1 (Tuesday).

Macke is described as 5-feet-6-inches tall, weighing about 200 pounds, with curly, light brown hair in a bob cut. She is known to hike in a black-and-white-striped shirt, black rain jacket and maroon puffy jacket.

Park officials received an anonymous call on Thursday that they want to know more about, and have asked the person who left the tip to contact them again.

Huff was not available for comment on Sunday.

Gaskill speculated that Macke, an experienced hiker who set out on the trail well-prepared, has holed up in her green Nemo tent to stay out of the constant chilly rain on the west end of the park.

“If she’s just staying put in her tent — and it’s possible she could have fortified it with trees and branches to offer more protection — obviously it would make it harder to see her,” he said.

He said that Macke had hiked the Long Tail, a rugged 273-mile walk that begins at the Massachusetts state line and runs to the Canadian border, doing it in sections.

“She’s done winter camping in the Northeast in the snow, backpacking in the winter. She practiced winter camping in our backyard in southern New Hampshire,” he added.

Macke worked as a drug and alcohol counselor for years before starting her own counseling business and was very happy working for herself, he said.

Her two sisters, Carmella and Angella, and Gaskill are in their parents home near Vancouver, Wash, Gaskill said. They traveled out to be close to the search.

“Her long-term boyfriend is here, too,” Gaskill texted after speaking about Macke. “He says the forest is healing for her.”

The family has started a Facebook page, Laura Macke Search & Rescue (SAR).

Anyone who knows anything about Macke’s whereabouts is urged to call Olympic National Park, “the number one to go to,” Gaskill said. The facebook page is for people who want to talk and share.

Olympic National Park is partnering with search and rescue teams from King County Explorers Search and Rescue, Olympic Mountain Rescue, Tacoma Mountain Rescue, Mason County Search and Rescue, and Jefferson County Search and Rescue.

Anyone who was in the area of Lake Quinault, Graves Creek, or Enchanted Valley between Oct. 30 and Nov. 1 or who has any information about Macke is asked to call or text the tip line at 1-888-653-0009, submit a tip online at go.nps.gov/SubmitATip, email nps_isb@nps.gov, or call park dispatch at 360-565-3115.

________

Executive Editor Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3530 or at lleach@peninsuladailynews.com.

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