Michael’s solicitude was touching. He obviously cared about his parents. He visited weekly, more when he could so he’d been excited at the opportunity of spending the following two weeks hiking with his parents. Avid hikers and campers, they still took off on daily or weekly treks, but they’d always let him know where they were going and when they expected to return since they knew he’d worry otherwise.
Hiking was something they’d always done as a family, often spending the entire summer holidays trekking a variety of locations. One particularly inspiring hike had been through the Three Brothers Mountain because it was a substantial hike with rocky ridges summits subalpine meadows and colourful wildflowers.
They visited the Sunshine Coast Trail most often because of its beach hiking and forest trails. It old-growth groves was spectacular. If need be, you could avail yourself of one of several huts provided for shelter along the way to rest up or to simply take a breather. Close enough to Powell River to resupply, a well-prepared hiker could tent near Lois Lake, a beautiful place to relax and enjoy and they often did.
Looking back, he realized their childhood was pretty unique. They’d participated in some special opportunities most teenager would never experience. Although his sisters weren’t as taken with the adventures of trekking, and their family obligations involving meant they often missed out on the preplanned treks with the parents. His love for the outdoors, the beauty, fresh air, the joy of wide-open spaces and the challenges of trekking into new areas had never diminished. Luckily, he was still single so he could take of on a whim to do what he loved best and he was ecstatic about the upcoming time with his parents.
However, when he phoned to confirm their plans, they hadn’t answered the phone. He’d called several times and finally drove to their house. From the outside, everything appeared normal and he knocked but received no answer. Using the key they’d given him, he unlocked the front door calling as he went, “Mom, dad? You here?” but he received no answer. He’d noted the car was missing when he’d arrived, and as he walked toward the bedrooms, he saw their hiking gear stacked neatly along one wall in preparation for the upcoming trek, but they were nowhere to be found. Red flags popped up. The ongoing preparations for their upcoming vacation meant they were eagerly looking forward to it, so that hadn’t changed. The house was in order as usual, but he had an eerie feeling something had gone terribly wrong.
He dialed the local detachment of the R.C.M.P. to a good friend, Thomas Marks and explained his concern. Knowing the Mitchell family well, he was equally concerned for they were a tight knit family that regularly kept in touch. Hopping in his car, lights flashing, he headed to their home.