In October a 21-year-old woman named Anna Schmidt (also known as Annie) went missing in the Columbia River Gorge. Her car was found at a trailhead directly across the river from my house. After several days the official search and rescue teams were called off and volunteers took over, but nobody found her for weeks. Finally, last weekend someone reported finding human remains, and it’s been confirmed: Anna died of blunt force trauma after falling off a cliff below Munra Point.
In the few weeks of October before she went missing, this area received almost twelve inches of rain. My lawn became a squishy, muddy mess, and the sidewalks and paved trails in town turned green with moss. This is not a good time of year to go hiking, much less in the area she was found. Here is a picture of the ridge leading to the viewpoint, where a tumble off either side means a fall of several hundred feet:
It’s a treacherous hike even in good weather, and articles about it have been criticized by locals in recent years for not emphasizing the danger enough. It is not officially maintained, some portions require rock-climbing techniques because they’re so steep, and the trail was undoubtedly muddy and slippery. To provide a little perspective on the landscape around me, here is a picture of my brother sitting at the top of a 1,500-foot cliff on Table Mountain (at an elevation of 3,400 feet). My house is in the yellow rectangle, and the red one marks Munra Point, which is visible from my bedroom window.
Anna may not have known how dangerous it was; she only recently moved from Utah to Portland. Her father is Jon Schmidt, one of the founding members and pianist of The Piano Guys, a music group that gained fame on YouTube which I’ve been a fan of for years. She was also a musician, and you can hear the last song she made with her brother by following this link.
Unless you’re very familiar with the area, please don’t hike alone. If you need a hiking companion anywhere near North Bonneville, WA, you can reach me at email@example.com. I’ve hiked dozens of trails around here and climbed several of the smaller peaks, and I grew up in these mountains surrounded by hundreds of acres of rugged wilderness. At the very least, I can direct you to beautiful hikes that are safe during the wet season or won’t be overcrowded with tourists in the summer.