PIEDMONT — Searchers on horseback will do one more sweep this weekend of an Oregon mountainside where a Piedmont man went missing in April.
Harney County Sheriff Dave Glerup said searchers have found no trace of Dustin Self, 19, since his pickup was found April 15 by a rancher on the side of a backcountry road on Steens Mountain.
“We have had some possible sightings reported, but none of them have panned out,” Glerup said Thursday. “It's warmed up, so this weekend we are going to have search-and-rescue go back out on horseback.”
Self left his parents' home in Piedmont in March after being inspired by the movie “Into the Wild.” He planned to take a long camping trip and look into two Oregon churches that use a hallucinogenic tea as a sacrament.
Friends and family haven't heard from Self since March 16. His abandoned pickup was found April 15. His laptop, keys, cellphone and some supplies were in the truck.
Self's backpack and camping gear were not in the pickup. Heavy snow and freezing temperatures on the mountain in the past few weeks would have made camping tough for even an experienced outdoorsman, Glerup said.
Self's parents said he was well-supplied for cold weather but hadn't camped in the kind of conditions he would have encountered on Steens Mountain.
Authorities began looking for Self after his pickup was discovered, but the search was suspended about a week later because of worsening weather conditions.
The situation is complicated because Self's plan called for him to leave civilization behind and camp alone for a few months. His parents, though worried, have said they think he is simply carrying through with his dream of living off the land.
Glerup said if searchers can't find a trace of Self on Steens Mountain this weekend, the assumption will be that he has moved on and chose to leave his pickup behind.
“We have no reason to believe he is still in the area,” Glerup said. “We would think and hope he would have gone down the mountain to the main road and got a ride out.”