Lost in the wilds, grandson of Selma resident emerges safely

Published 10:47 am Monday, June 22, 2009

Selma native Mary Albrecht said one thing Monday about her grandson, an avid outdoorsman, “We know that he’s safe.”

Mark Albrecht, 22, took a solo backpacking trip into the North Cascades National Park last week. He packed up good equipment, extra food and filed a detailed plan for his trip with rangers as he purchased a permit.

But a dense, low-level fog tripped him up and Albrecht couldn’t find his way out of the park on schedule, according to authorities at the North Cascades National Park.

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It was an innocent enough trip. Albrecht loves the outdoors, his grandmother said. He was so excited about being in the Northwest. Albrecht had recently graduated from Purdue University and was about to take his first job in Seattle as an aviation technologist.

But he wanted to take in the rich wildlife. He wasn’t due into work until Thursday.

Park authorities said Albrecht parked his car near a trailhead at the end of the Cascade River near Marblemount. He camped there for two nights, which allowed him to hike through Cascade Pass, up the Sahale Arm Trail in the direction of Sahale Glacier Camp.

Rangers said Albrecht told them he turned around early Wednesday morning, came down the Sahale Arm ridgeline, but lost his way in the heavy fog. Rangers said Albrecht told them the sun was even obscured by the fog.

So, he pitched a tent and waited for the fog to clear or for someone to come his way.

“When the fog came in, he knew he couldn’t get any further without getting lost,” Mary Albrecht explained.

By Sunday, he saw the sun for the first time. He got his bearings and emerged along the Cascade River Road on Sunday. By that time, volunteers and tracker dogs had gone in search of him.

Albrecht bumped into a hiker along the way, who knew about the search. The hiker took Albrecht to a base camp the searchers had established Sunday.

Mark Albrecht’s family is flying in from West Lafayette, Ind. Monday evening for a family reunion, his grandmother said. She won’t be joining them. But Mary Albrecht already has the best news.

“He’s safe,” she said.