Bryan Johnston, left, has been missing for two months now after going on a hike. He is pictured here with his wife Susan Johnston and granddaughter.
'He just vanished into thin air'
Missing hiker a lifelong Ballardite
The circumstances of Bryan Johnston's disappearance are maddening as they are elusive.
"He just vanished into thin air," said daughter Kelly Hubbard, sitting inside the historic Johnston home in the Sunset Hill neighborhood. After two months, she and her mother, Susan Johnston, still have no evidence, no closure on what happened to Bryan.
Bryan, age 71, had left Aug. 22 for a two- or three-day trip to the Olympic National Park. He was reported missing the following Wednesday, long overdue.
Pierce County Search and Rescue found his truck at the Ozette Ranger Station within an hour of the report, but after that they had no sign of where he would have gone. The search included the Loop Trail, where he said he would be going, and walked the coastline between Shi Shi Beach and the Norwegian Memorial. Efforts by land, sea and air all turned up nothing.
Everything leading up to his disappearance appeared normal. He told family before he left simply that he was going on a hike, bought a ticket for the ferry and bought lunch. Several receipts from Port Angeles were found in his truck.
"The feds don't have a clue. They've never encountered anything like it," Hubbard said.
Bryan is not just the kind of man to pick up and leave, Hubbard said. He spent his entire life in Ballard. He went to Adams Elementary and graduated from Ballard High School in 1960. He graduated with a Bachelor's of Science in 1966 at University of Washington and was in the U.S. Air Force until 1970. After that, he worked in Seattle City Light until he retired.
"He is just an amazing person. Very caring, thoughtful, always giving back," Hubbard said.
Sitting in the Johnston house, a person can meet Bryan without meeting him. Family says he renovated the entire house, from the wiring to the plumbing to the windows. Bryan had bought the 101-year-old house in 1975 from his parents, who had it themselves since 1943, when Bryan was just 6 months old. The house was featured in the Ballard Historical Society's Classic Homes Tour. (The Ballard News-Tribune had interviewed the Johnston couple in 2010.)
"Do you feel anything?" Susan asked of being inside the house. "Would you say it feels like being home?"
Bryan's family has not given up on him and the search is ongoing. He has white hair worn in a ponytail, blue eyes and is 5 feet, 10 inches tall. When last seen, he was wearing blue jeans and carrying a black day pack.
Anyone who has seen Johnston or has information regarding his whereabouts is asked to phone Olympic National Park at 360-565-3120.
Follow Ballard News-Tribune on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ballardnewstrib
And Twitter at http://twitter.com/ballardnewstrib