This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2004, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
PASS LAKE, Uinta Mountains - Kevin Bardsley hasn't seen his son since Friday morning. And as he has waited for word of the 12-year-old boy's fate, the rain and temperatures have continued to fall.
So have his hopes.
Through Monday morning, Bardsley was telling friends he was optimistic Garrett would be found alive. And for the fourth day, he rose before the sun broke over the rugged horizon to search the area where he last saw the Boy Scout disappear into a line of trees. He was joined in the effort by more than 100 volunteers and professional searchers.
As was everyone else on Monday afternoon, Bardsley was empty handed when he returned to search headquarters - a gravel parking lot about two miles southeast of the heavily forested basin where Garrett disappeared after he fell into a pond while fishing with his father and then headed back to camp for a change of shoes.
Facing a huddle of reporters and search volunteers Monday evening, the optimism was gone. Bardsley wept, acknowledging that the Summit County Sheriff's Office had decided to "shift the focus" of the search, signaling that officials no longer believe Garrett is alive.
"There will always be a hole in our hearts," Bardsley said through tears as his wife, daughter and two other sons stood behind him.
He was not alone in his change in outlook. Conventional wisdom among experienced searchers is that Garrett likely hid under a bush, rock or log on the first night he went missing, when temperatures were in the high 30s. And those seasoned in the sometimes sad business of finding lost hikers say that's probably where the boy remains.
"Unless you're standing right on top of him, you might not see him at all," said Summit County Sheriff Dave Edmunds, who has led so many searches over this primitive terrain that he considers the process "scientific."
Janny Conant didn't need experience or science to tell her where Garrett was.
"He's so quiet and timid," said Conant, who was the lost boy's Cub Scout den mother four years ago. "My very first thought was that he would hide."
The boy's mother agreed with Conant, but speculated that her son, if panicked, may first have run.
And that makes the search effort all the more difficult. While geography suggests the boy would have had a hard time making it out of the Culberant Lake Basin - where Garrett and his father were on a Boy Scout camping trip - the boy's possible rate of travel means they must search an area 32 miles in diameter.
Hanging on the side of a search center trailer is a topographical map of the area, webbed with red and yellow lines - representing the paths of those who have hiked the area looking for Garrett. The basin where he was last seen is completely covered, but miles remain untouched.
"It's one of the most rugged areas in the country," Edmunds said.
And it is the same area that was scoured last fall when a mother and daughter went missing during a trek to Crystal Lake.
"It's eerily similar," Edmunds said. "And we very much could have the same outcome."
The women's remains weren't located until June 24.
Kevin Bardsley doesn't want his son to suffer the same fate.
"We don't want to leave Garrett here on this mountain," he said. "We want to bring him home."