Naked Spiritual Quest: Maureen Kelly, 19, Missing in Washington Forest

Wednesday, 12 Jun 2013 07:19 AM

By Alexandra Ward

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Rescue crews have been combing Washington's Gifford Pinchot National Forest for Maureen Kelly, who went missing after embarking on a "naked spiritual quest" Sunday.

Kelly, 19, of Vancouver, was last seen Sunday evening walking away from a campground in southwest Washington state in nothing but a fanny pack. A friend reported her missing after she failed to return.

Search crews said Kelly apparently crossed a creek and climbed up to a road on the other side of the canyon from the campground.

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"Where she entered the creek is amazingly steep. It's called Canyon Creek Campground for a reason," Sharon Ward, with Pacific Crest Search Dogs, told KPTV FOX 12. "It's very, very steep. So how she got down there barefoot is a wonder. And how she came up out of the bottom is a wonder."

Ward said Kelly's track stopped on the paved road, so search crews spent much of Monday trying to find where she may have left the pavement and entered the woods.

Though Kelly is said to be a competent hiker, family and friends worry about her being naked, underprepared, and exposed to the elements.

"It's super cold at night and without clothes. I really don't see how it's possible," camper Liz Newland told FOX 12.

"There are bears out here, mountain lions, there's any number of things that could get you out here," said another camper, Jessica Herman. "Landslides are prominent out here."

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Police said Monday they would suspend their search efforts beginning Tuesday night. There is no set timeline for resuming the search.

"Twelve search teams searched the area again today and we were unable to locate Ms. Kelly," Skamania County Sheriff Dave Brown told FOX 12. "They found nothing that is related to this search and rescue mission. We will have deputies continue to check the area for the next couple of days and at that time we will reevaluate our options if Ms. Kelly does not return from her spiritual quest."

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