Foul play suspected in Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) hiker disappearance

SUMMARY

Foul play continues to be a leading theory in the disappearance of PCT Hiker, Christopher Stevens Sylvia

Very little has been learned regarding the disappearance of then-28-year-old, Christopher (Chris) Sylvia over the past 5 years.

Provided by (Missing from the Pacific Crest Trail):

Name: Christopher “Chris” Stevens Sylvia

Age: 28

Last Seen: February 16, 2015

Last Seen Wearing: Brown hiking boots, dark colored jacket and green pants.

LKP: Mile 127 (Near Warner Springs, California)

Height: 5’8

Weight: 155 lbs.

Eyes: Hazel

Hair: Brown

Of note: Sources vary on the type of “pick-up” Chris scheduled with his roommate/friend, Min-Kim. Some sources indicate this pick-up was a “supply pick-up,” while others report this as an official “pick-up,” as in leaving the area with Kim. This remains unclear, and we will work toward verifying these reports.

  • Chris left Anza, California on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) on Thursday, February 12, 2015.

  • He called a friend/roommate on February 16, 2015 to meet him near Warner Springs for a supply pick-up on the 17th at a Buddhist temple in the northern part of San Diego County on Chihuahua Valley Road, not far from the famous Palomar observatory. Chris never arrived.

  • His friend thought maybe Chris decided not to stop for supplies, and did not alert the Sheriff’s Department until February 24th when Chris was expected to reach his final destination, Campo.

  • On February 24, 2015, hikers found a sleeping bag, sleeping pad and backpack that appeared to belong to Sylvia. Sylvia’s ID was also found approximately 13 miles off Highway 79, north of Warner Springs. (Source)

  • Search called off on: March 3, 2015. The San Diego Sheriff’s office called off a search for Chris Sylvia on March 3, 2015 due to weather conditions; he was missing for 2 weeks at the time the search was called off. (Source)

As posted by a related Reddit Group:

Sylvia was an experienced hiker, and in any event the section of the PCT where he vanished is quite safe even for solo hikers. It is somewhat rugged but not mountainous. It runs through semi-arid terrain with relatively light vegetation, in other words not the sort of territory that could easily hide a body. There are mountain lions in the area, but they are shy animals which avoid human contact.

I find this a rather puzzling case. Sylvia would not have gone far from his gear, and given the way that area was so extensively searched it is highly unlikely that if he fell or otherwise became incapacitated he wouldn’t have been found. I’ve found no evidence that crime against hikers is any sort of issue along this part of the PCT, and the distance from the border makes it improbable that he might have run across drug smugglers.

As posted by Missing from the Pacific Crest Trail Facebook Account:

An older post from the Find Chris Sylvia PCT Missing Hiker Group: “My last trip to the site of Chris Sylvia disappearance was enlightening. I’ve been thinking about what I call the “extra two days” (it shouldn’t have took Chris more than 2.5 days maximum to get to Chihuahua Valley Rd from Anza TH.) In addition to that, he somehow had already been to the Buddhist Temple which is quite a distance off the PCT. Also he told his friend in his last phone call, “I have lots of stories to tell you.” To me, the only reasonable way Chris would know about and have seen the Buddhist Temple by the time he made that phone call was if he got a ride there by a local. But it that is the case, why hasn’t that person come forward? After talking to some very knowledgeable trail angels in the area, I now believe Chris got off the trail near Tule Springs and perhaps stayed at the Anza RV park for a couple of days. There he would have met a very nice camp host who loved hikers and would have given Chris a ride to Chihuahua Valley road to continue his hike. I drove to the Anza RV park to try to find this man, Earl, but sadly he has passed. This explains why the person who may have given Chris a ride has not come forward.
Sadly, this conclusion doesn’t resolve the case, it only adds more questions.” — Andrea

Christopher’s mother, Nancy Sylvia, indicated all five of her children are experienced hikers and she suspects her son’s disappearance is foul play.

“Why was he going alone? That is very unusual,” Nancy said. “Especially when they found his gear… He would not have left his gear.”

“The search and see of it is obviously a lot to deal with,” said Min Kim, the roommate of missing hiker Chris Sylvia (Source). Chris’ roommate, Kim, said “All we can really do is hope he is OK and try to remember as many positive moments as we can with him.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact the San Diego Sheriff’s Department at (858) 565-5200.

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