Combat Zone

Search and rescue recovers hiker lost in President’s Woods

Photo courtesy of Public Domain Pictures

A three week long search finally ended this week when Washington Search and Rescue (WSR) found missing hiker Kristy Canover, who had become lost in the President’s Woods while hiking alone.

“At that point, we were expecting to come across a body,” Bill Gillespie, director of Washington Search and Rescue, said. “Most people don’t have the survival skills or equipment to make it that long in the wild, particularly in February. And a region like the President’s Woods is particularly harsh — no sources of fresh water, little wildlife, sometimes people go in there and smoke weed. We were astonished to find Ms. Canover alive,” Gillespie said.

Volunteers were also amazed to have found Ms. Canover. Hilda Hockingbrett, a veteran volunteer at WSR, said not only did she not expect to find the hiker alive, she was doubtful they would ever recover a body.

“It was getting around to that time that there were rumors of giving up the search. Of course we do what we can, but when you’re dealing with an area the size of the President’s Woods — over 1.7 acres — ultimately you have to be pragmatic, you have to get real and you have to throw your hands up and say, ‘okay. I couldn’t do it this time.’ I’m so glad we didn’t. This is a miracle,” Hockingbrett said.

Margaret Canover, Kristy Canover’s mother, was tearful with relief.

“I told her not to go there,” Margaret Canover said. “The President’s Woods is the Bermuda Triangle of the Pacific Northwest. Daughters go in, sisters, mothers, friends, brothers, uncles, mailmen and bodies come out. But she was so persistent, so headstrong, finally I said told her ‘do what you want.’ I’m just so glad that’s not the last thing I said to her.”

It’s true that The President’s Woods is notoriously difficult to navigate. Since the small forest in the corner of a college campus was planted over 70 years ago, over one hundred outdoor recreationists have gone missing while exploring the region. Less than 70 percent of them have survived.

In recent years, the Board of Trustees has come under fire for keeping such a dangerous wilderness so closely integrated into life at University of Puget Sound. Critics claim that the President’s Woods pose a serious threat to student safety.

“When I wake up in the morning, I wonder: am I going to get lost in the forest and die today?” junior economics major Sean Grophic said. “And when I go to bed at night I wonder: did I get lost in the forest and die today?”

Undeclared senior Gregoir Boindois argued that the forest’s presence was a matter of gender, economic class and privilege.

“It’s about the relationship of masochism and masculinity: those who have never had to endure true hardship have to invent it for themselves. And that’s why the President’s Woods is here,” Boindois said. “Have you guys read ‘Into the Wild’ by Jon Krakauer? Or other Jon Krakauer books?”

While there is a significant movement within the student body calling for the clear cutting of the President’s Woods, according to the Board of Trustees, it’s here to say.

“The President’s Woods is the last true frontier and it’s not about to get chopped down,” board member Tristle Bank said.

“It’s badass as hell — I like it,” Puget Sound President Isiah Crawford said.