It should have been a normal day for Chris Walkenford Sr. as he moved along the trails along the Mendenhall River. Tour guides practiced their river rafting skills, hikers walked with pets, and sunshine permeated the foliage.
It should have been a normal day except that Walkenford was still searching for his brother, Scott, who has been missing since Saturday.
"I just expect to see him walking down the trail," Walkenford said, his eyes swelling with tears. "I just expect him to come up to me and say, 'Hi.' He's my little brother, he always made me laugh. He's a good kid."
The two had spoken briefly on Saturday, and Chris Walkenford said his brother sounded depressed. Scott Walkenford told Chris he was wondering around in the wood in the Montana Creek area, but he wouldn't say where or give a specific answer as to when he would return.
Scott's truck was found nearby in the Mendenhall River School parking lot later that day. Chris said his brother also sent text messages his daughter and a friend, but again didn't say where he was going.
Scott Walkenford's 14-year-old son, Kevin, passed away from heat stroke July 19, 2009, while hiking on a National forest trail in Arizona with family. Chris Walkenford said his brother would visit his son's gravesite often, sitting for hours at a time. He thinks Scott's depression may have played a role in his disappearance.
"It has been over four days now," Chris Walkenford said. "I just don't know where he went. We cry, we get angry because he just vanished."
Scott's two daughters, ages 17 and 20, have participated in daily searches. Friends, authorities and local search and rescue groups have been scouring the wilderness for days as well. Chris Walkenford described the community's effort as "incredible."
"The whole community has been coming out," he said. "It is just fantastic."
SEADOGS, Juneau Mountain Rescue and Douglas Mountain Rescue are continuing to search in the evenings and will meet with Alaska State Trooper Chris Umbs today to discuss the most recent search results. Areas targeted are the Montana Creek and the Dredge Lake areas.
Umbs said authorities will continue to search for Scott Walkenford. Anyone with information as to Scott Walkenford's whereabouts should contact the Alaska State Troopers at 465-4000.
Contact Klas Stolpe at email@example.com.