Trail of the Lost: The Relentless Search to Bring Home the Missing Hikers of the Pacific Crest Trail (Hardcover)

Trail of the Lost: The Relentless Search to Bring Home the Missing Hikers of the Pacific Crest Trail By Andrea Lankford Cover Image
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** AN AMAZON "BEST BOOKS OF THE MONTH" FOR AUGUST 2023 (Biographies & Memoirs) **

From an award-winning former law enforcement park ranger and investigator, this female-driven true crime adventure follows the author’s quest to find missing hikers along the Pacific Crest Trail by pairing up with an eclectic group of unlikely allies.

As a park ranger with the National Park Service's law enforcement team, Andrea Lankford led search and rescue missions in some of the most beautiful (and dangerous) landscapes across America, from Yosemite to the Grand Canyon. But though she had the support of the agency, Andrea grew frustrated with the service's bureaucratic idiosyncrasies, and left the force after twelve years. Two decades later, however, she stumbles across a mystery that pulls her right back where she left off: three young men have vanished from the Pacific Crest Trail, the 2,650-mile trek made famous by Cheryl Strayed's Wild, and no one has been able to find them. It’s bugging the hell out of her.
Andrea’s concern soon leads her to a wild environment unlike any she’s ever encountered: missing person Facebook groups. Andrea launches an investigation, joining forces with an eclectic team of amateurs who are determined to solve the cases by land and by screen: a mother of the missing, a retired pharmacy manager, and a mapmaker who monitors terrorist activity for the government. Together, they track the activities of kidnappers and murderers, investigate a cult, rescue a psychic in peril, cross paths with an unconventional scientist, and reunite an international fugitive with his family. Searching for the missing is a brutal psychological and physical test with the highest stakes, but eventually their hardships begin to bear strange fruits—ones that lead them to places and people they never saw coming.
Beautifully written, heartfelt, and at times harrowing, TRAIL OF THE LOST paints a vivid picture of hiker culture and its complicated relationship with the ever-expanding online realm, all while exploring the power and limits of determination, generosity, and hope. It also offers a deep awe of the natural world, even as it unearths just how vast and treacherous it can be. 
On the TRAIL OF THE LOST, you may not find what you are looking for, but you will certainly find more than you seek.

About the Author

Andrea Lankford is the author of Ranger Confidential and three trail guides. During her career with the National Park Service, Andrea won several awards for her criminal investigations. After leaving the ranger ranks, the accomplished outdoorswoman thru-hiked the entire Appalachian Trail, kayaked from Miami to Key West, and she and her friend, Beth Overton, were the first to mountain bike the 800-mile Arizona Trail. Andrea is now a registered nurse living in Northern California.

Praise For…



** AN AMAZON "BEST BOOKS OF THE MONTH" FOR AUGUST 2023 (Biographies & Memoirs) **

** Goodreads Choice Awards/Best Books of 2023 – Finalist for “Best Nonfiction Book” **

** American Scientist, "Summer STEM Reads You Won’t Want to Miss" **

** LitHub CrimeReads, "10 NEW BOOKS COMING OUT THIS WEEK" **

** Library Journal Book Pulse, "In the Media" **

"[G]ripping... Trail of the Lost is about the hikers and the efforts to find them, but it's also a rich, multilayered narrative that works on three different levels... Trail of the Lost is written with a clear, fast-paced, straightforward prose that still manages to be beautiful and immersive. It is also as full of hope and humanity as it is packed with pain, grief, danger, and tension. This is a book in which the PCT is as much of a character as every person Lankford writes about, and that balance makes it worthy reading."


"Summer is a great time for adventures, even the armchair kind! Andrea Lankford’s Trail of the Lost is perfect for this kind of read."—American Scientist

"When author Andrea Lankford says that she put 'a lot of blood, sweat, tears, and broken bones' into her new work of nonfiction, Trail of the Lost, she’s not speaking in metaphor... [this is a] book that satisfies and educates. It also paints a picture of the remarkable generosity of people along the trail, from Tarr to the so-called 'trail angels'... the book is also a portrait of hope and resilience, especially when it comes to Langford, Tarr, and the families of the missing."—San Francisco Chronicle

“The real science of searching in nature is the most interesting—and disturbing—part of Lankford’s account…She writes openly about her search and rescue missions for NPS and how she is still haunted by those that failed. People who weren’t found in time, or weren’t found at all. She has faced families trying to emotionally recalibrate from 'rescue' to 'recovery.' She makes us care about the lost men through details of their lives before the PCT, and the volunteers keeping the searches going.”—The Spectator

"[A] riveting story, incredibly well-written and exhaustively researched."—The Missing and Unexplained podcast

“A fascinating story.....this book will tear at your heartstrings, but it will also keep you riveted along the way."—History Nerds United

"The book has a great pace, the chapters are well structured, and there are black and white copies of the three mens’ missing posters. Lankford expertly switches between explaining search and hiking  techniques and gives us insight into the people conducting such searches."—Defrosting Cold Cases

Trail of the Lost is a unique contribution to both outdoor literature and true crime.... Lankford details the cases of these missing hikers without being voyeuristic or exploitative, instead being mindful of the humanity of the people about whom she’s writing, as well as their loved ones, remembering that lives and hearts are at stake.”—Eastern Mountain Sports

“A gripping real-life mystery.”—Publishers Weekly

“A gut-wrenching and compelling investigation of long-distance treks gone wrong.”—Kirkus

“It’s hard to imagine who else could have produced a work like this. Her book is a sprawling portrait of an area whose fantastical features practically necessitate the use of metaphor: The pale rocks south of the San Jacinto Mountains ‘resemble bottom teeth erupting from forested gums.’ Above all, this is a profile of two subcultures: hikers and their searchers, who share an inconceivable tenacity and sometimes a similar desperation.”—Wall Street Journal

Product Details
ISBN: 9780306831959
ISBN-10: 0306831953
Publisher: Hachette Books
Publication Date: August 22nd, 2023
Pages: 352
Language: English