Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

August 18, 2013

Fatal Attraction: Georgia man’s love of Montana ends in tragedy


-- — Searching for Austin

At approximately 7:15 p.m., 45 minutes after he had placed his initial distress call, Aaron Davis heard his phone ring.

The Park Service had sent out a Search and Rescue team to find Austin Parker.

Davis explained to them what had happened before Parker stopped picking up his phone.

Parker had summited Electric Peak, he said, but there was a thunderstorm quickly rolling in.

On the summit, Austin told Davis, he was experiencing static discharge, much like what the Hayden Party experienced when they first discovered the mountain. Realizing he needed to get out of the open, Parker called Davis and had him look up an alternate route to descend the mountain.

“When Austin hiked Mount Washburn (another peak in the Yellowstone area), he went up one trail and down another. I think it was that he didn’t like going back over his same footsteps. He was like, ‘I came here to explore new places,’” Davis explained.

“He was nervous and scared, but he wasn’t a rookie — he’d hiked in the Adirondacks in New York, he’d been out here (in Montana) before. I wasn’t too concerned about him — initially,” Davis added.

With that information and Davis’ description of where he thought Parker was — based on what Parker had told him over the phone — the search for Parker began.

“But there are people here (in Montana). Fine people, of a breed that no longer exists in the outside world. Montana seems to be where people go when they are fed up, and have had enough of the outside world, and wish to escape it. These words (to a careful reader) ought to ring true as ones that I myself gave as a reason for leaving my proper life in Atlanta and ending up here ... This place, it would seem, attracts the very people that have similar frustrations and disillusionment as I do with the rest of the world. As a result, I am closer than I have maybe ever been to finding people of a like mind to mine.” – Austin Parker’s blog, July 3

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