AMBOY, Wash. — Search operations for a 19-year-old Vancouver, Wash., woman who reportedly walked off naked on a “spiritual quest” from a campsite in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest last Sunday were being suspended Tuesday night.
Search operations were being suspended at 8 p.m. Tuesday “until the end of the week,” the Skamania County Sheriff’s Offie said in a statement.
A friend of Maureen Kelly called authorities early Monday morning to report that Kelly had left their campsite at Canyon Creek Campground at about 5 p.m. Sunday to go on a “spiritual quest” and that she was wearing nothing but a fanny pack. When she did not return after several hours, the friend called authorities.
Twelve “4×4 search teams searched the area again today (Tuesday) and we were unable to locate Ms. Kelly,” Skamania County Sheriff Dave Brown said. “They found nothing that is related to this search-and-rescue mission. We will have deputies continue to check the area for the next couple of days and at that time we will reevaluate our options if Ms. Kelly does not return from her spiritual quest.”
Kelly’s brother described her as comfortable and capable with the outdoors, he told KPTV in Portland he’s concerned with the way she left and that she didn’t tell anyone about when she planned to return.
Other campers also expressed concern. The Canyon Creek area is steep and mountainous with heavy timber and brush.
“It’s super cold at night and, without clothes, I really don’t see how it’s possible,” said camper Liz Newland.
“There are bears out here, mountain lions, there’s any number of things that could get you out here. Landslides are prominent out here,” said another camper, Jessica Herman.
Cox said temperatures were mild from Sunday to Monday, and ground search teams looked for Kelly until it got too dark.
The campground from which she disappeared is located in Gifford Pinchot National Forest about 60 miles northeast of Portland.
Search crews said Kelly crossed a creek and climbed up to Forest Road 54, on the other side of the canyon from the campground.
Ward said Kelly’s track stopped on the paved road, so search crews spent much of the day trying to find where she may have left the pavement and entered the woods.
It is unknown whether she may be on a road or trail in the area or if she is moving cross country.