On August 18, Rachel Smith, 19, headed out for seven miles on the Big Otter Trail in the HaDaRonDah Wilderness Area, a trail she’s run dozens of times in her hometown of Old Forge, New York, tucked away in the Adirondacks.
Usually a morning runner, Smith, who’s on the cross-country team at St. Michael’s College in Vermont, left her house at 7 p.m. because work had kept her busy earlier in the day. She told her mom she’d be back in 90 minutes, tops.
Because of the fog, Smith opted to run on a snow-mobile trail instead of the main road, where cars would have a hard time seeing her. There’s no cell service where Smith runs so she never brings a phone.
Smith didn’t come home that night.
Just before the 3.5-mile turnaround, Smith saw two black bear cubs. An avid outdoors person—she attended Adirondack Woodcraft Camps for 12