Veteran Hiker ‘The Otter’ Missing

Yesterday I was made aware that a fellow thru-hiker and dear friend from the Pacific Crest Trail in 2013 is currently missing.


Steven Olshansky, better known as ‘The Otter’, was last seen on November 14, 2015, being dropped off by friends at Cumbres Pass in Colorado (near the border of New Mexico) on the Continental Divide Trail (CDT). He was heading south on the CDT towards Ghost Ranch, expecting to be out of service for 2-2.5 weeks, but never arrived to pick up his resupply and has not been in contact with family or friends since.

It is difficult for search and rescue to access all parts of the trail during winter, though some areas have been searched on foot and by snowmobile. Family and friends have also been following a number of unconfirmed leads of possible sightings in CDT trail towns including Cuba, Grants and Lordsburg, New Mexico, and off trail near Springerville, Arizona. But there have been no possible sightings since January 5, 2016.

Otter has hiked all three of the long distance trails that constitute the ‘Triple Crown’ of hiking in the United States: the PCT, CDT and AT (Appalachian Trail) multiple times and is a very experienced hiker. It is out of character for him to be out of contact for so long with his family and friends while on trail.


Otter is 59-years-old, 6-feet tall and 175 pounds, has grey hair and a beard, and was last seen wearing beige pants, a green baseball cap, and a blue jacket. He also has a black-and-red quarter-zip pullover and usually camps in a six-foot red-and-grey teepee-styled tent.

Otter’s friend Peter has set up a website: and a Facebook page where you can find the latest updates from his search and provide any information you may have about his whereabouts. For anyone who is willing and able to assist in the search for Otter, please read the guidelines posted by his family on their website. The most important thing is that all searchers stay safe.

Anyone who has seen a hiker matching Otter’s description in the past eight weeks, or has any information on his whereabouts, please call the family 24/7 at 800-444-1011 (ask for Peter). You can also use the contact form on his website or comment on his Facebook page.

Please also spread the word and share this information as far and wide as you possibly can. Thank you on behalf of his father Mark, sister Miranda and brother Neil, and his childhood friend Peter.


14 thoughts on “Veteran Hiker ‘The Otter’ Missing”

  1. I do hope he shows soon. I will keep him in my thoughts , perhaps weather has slowed his progress. Hope you’re well and life is good. My son John and his wife Maggie are in Patagonia but had planned to do the CDT. All the best, Ros

  2. So often, those in the hiking community come to know eachother as family. And it is always a scary time when those we know and love are un-accounted for. Those of us far away will help spread the word and try to help connect the dots.

    In the mean time, we wish everyone strength and wisdom in your search efforts.


  3. Saw this on a CDT facebook posting tonight. Sounds oblique and not definitive so hopefully more information is forthcoming.
    ‎Ian Crombie‎ to CDT16
    3 hrs ·
    A group of us just made it to Chama, NM. There’s still a good amount of snow up there — expect a lot of post holing a couple days out of Ghost Ranch. We made it to cumbres pass without snow shoes, but it wasn’t fun.
    At Lower Lagunitas Campground there is an outhouse that appears to be related to Otters disappearance. The NM state police have been notified and are actively investigating. Additionally, the number on the missing hiker poster has been contacted and this information has been shared with them. Please be respectful to the family and authorities while they investigate.
    LikeShow more reactionsComment

    Teresa Martinez Thanks Ian for reporting what you have found.
    Like · Reply · 3 hrs

    1. Thank you for sharing this Kyle. The last update on their WordPress site was April 30, so this is a lot more than I had known.

  4. Sad news as Otter was found deceased. Thoughts to all who knew and hiked with him.

    Body of missing hiker found at campground
    By Katy Barnitz / Journal Staff WritePublished: Sunday, May 15th, 2016 at 10:00pm
    Updated: Sunday, May 15th, 2016 at 11:34pm
    A 59-year-old man missing since November has been found dead in a campground in northern New Mexico, state police confirmed Sunday.

    The initial investigation determined that Stephen Olshansky likely died of exposure while hiking on the Continental Divide, Sgt. Elizabeth Armijo said in a news release.

    Steve “Otter” Olshansky in a photograph on the Search for Otter – Steve Olshansky page on Facebook.
    Hikers contacted police after finding a man’s body in a facility Saturday at Lower Lagunitas Campground, which is located off of County Road 87 on national forest land east of Chama.

    Impassible roads and high snow drifts prevented officers from accessing his remains Saturday. On Sunday, Armijo said, they hiked and used ATVs to reach the area.

    Olshansky, who went by the nickname Otter, was an avid hiker, according to the Search for Otter – Steve Olshansky page of Facebook.

    1. Kyle, I can’t thank you enough for alerting me to this today. It’s been an incredibly surreal and emotional roller coaster.

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