A couple of people have asked about the sightings that have been reported and our inability to get confirmation whether or not this hiker is Steve. Essentially, we have been stuck in this purgatory where there have been several sightings of a hiker—even credible reports that the hiker might be Steve—but we have been unable to get any confirmation. Here’s where we are:
Unfortunately, Steve hasn’t used his phone or a credit card, so we can’t track him either of those two ways.
We’ve had several people in Cuba and Grants who have ID’d this mystery hiker as Steve from pictures, including a ranger who was “pretty sure” that the hiker was Steve, but the hiker never identified himself as Steve with any of them. One person thought that he did call himself Otter, but she really wasn’t sure and only said that after seeing the name “Otter” on a poster, so we’re not sure how credible that is.
There were two places that had video, but in one the file was corrupted and couldn’t be viewed and the other was scanned and they didn’t see Steve. That made sense, because it turns out there were two hikers in Cuba at the same time, and it looks like it was the other hiker who stopped in that particular store, not the hiker-who-could-be-Steve.
A hiker was seen walking along Hwy 180 near Cliffs right before Christmas, and the woman who emailed thought it might be Steve.
We then didn’t get another sighting until Lordsburg on New Year’s Eve, where one person based the ID on that black-and-red quarter zip SF pullover and his hat. A second person—an experienced CDT volunteer—saw a hiker with a pack just outside the store around the same time, but didn’t see a face.
Five days later, we got a sighting of a hiker possibly with the same black-and-red pullover hiking fast on Hwy 60 between Springerville, Arizona, and Quemado heading east. This was a Forest Service employee who probably knew a hiker when she saw one, but unfortunately, as has been the case with every sighting, the person saw the hiker first and then saw a poster or an article about Steve. By the time she called and people were sent out there, the hiker was gone.
A few days ago a hiker was seen just outside of Silver City one evening. We had volunteers and the State Police comb the area, but the hiker was gone.
We are still waiting on some video from the Lordsburg sighting; we have everything crossed that this video comes through, and we can see, once and for all, whether this hiker-who-could-be-Steve is, in fact, Steve.
We have all lived in terror from the the first day we reported Steve missing that he had suffered an accident or health event up in Carson National Forest. We felt a little better after the sightings in Cuba and Grants, but the terror has never left and won’t leave until we get confirmation. We have followed up every lead in an effort to try to do that, but so far have not been able to confirm anything.
The State Police and Search and Rescue Unit have been wonderful, but they cannot help us now until we come up with more leads for them to follow up. In the meantime, we have talked with members of the volunteer search-and-rescue community in New Mexico and have put posters up so people who are headed out on the trail route can keep their eyes open for any signs of a hiker. And we hope there will be more sightings so we get more chances to catch up with this hiker—if, indeed, all of these sightings all over the place have been of the same hiker. We don’t even know that. Right now, we have no idea where the hiker who was seen in Silver City is headed, so don’t know where to look.
In addition to the posters, we have contacted every place hikers stop along the CDT route between Ghost Ranch and the border and asked them to keep an eye out.
We are going to expand our media campaign early next week, but if anyone has any ideas of other things we can do, we would love to hear from you. At the moment, we have lost the hiker-who-could-be-Steve and have no specific area of the trail route to search, so are stymied.