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After summiting Washington state’s Vesper Peak on a day hike in August 2018, Sam Sayers disappeared. At Seattle Met, Allison Williams reports on the conspiracy and true-crime enthusiasts, the social media frenzy, and the desperate search for a woman who hasn’t been seen since.

THE TRAIL REGISTER may be the last tangible piece of Sam on Vesper Peak, the last one you can physically touch, but there was one more sign of her. That sunny August Wednesday, a hiker stopped a few hundred feet below the top, right above the meadow where Kevin would one day erect his camp.

The hiker turns his camera in a blurry panorama, catching blue sky over boulder fields, the sharp peaks that circle Lake Elan. A big open space where it looks like you can see everything. As the camera trains on Vesper Peak, a figure ascends the scramble route, passing other climbers at a determined pace.

Sam has a hiking pole in each hand, head down as she earns the last of the 4,200-foot climb. This is the stance of someone who doesn’t give up. The camera moves on, and Sam continues ever upward.

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