Wisconsin survivalist missing after 2 months in Alaska

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Alaska State Troopers are searching for a missing 31-year-old survivalist from Wisconsin who set out alone in the Alaska wilderness in late September.

Thomas Seibold of Three Lakes, Wis., is described as an experienced outdoorsman who works as an instructor at the Talking Drum Outdoor School.

Seibold had planned to stay in the northwest Alaska backcountry through October and had booked a flight home to Wisconsin on Thursday, according to the Anchorage Daily News.

“He didn’t make that flight,” said troopers spokeswoman Beth Ipsen.

Seibold traveled to Alaska in June, staying first at an Alaska Native fish camp in southeast Alaska before heading north, said Tamarack Song, director of the Talking Drum Outdoor School.

Song said Seibold traveled to the northwest Alaska village of Ambler in September, hiking to a cabin about 30 miles to the north, up the Ambler River. That’s where a woman and her 13-year-old son lived, Song said.

Seibold, the woman and the boy canoed down the river to the woman’s fish camp sometime in September. Seibold parted ways with the woman and her son on Sept. 27 and said he planned to head back to the cabin, according to Song, who has spoken to the woman and the troopers searching for Seibold.

Seibold’s plan was to hike out about 25 miles to Kobuk in October, and he was supposed to contact someone by Nov. 11, Ipsen said. When he failed to do that, the person reported him missing, she said.

Aerial searches of the area have turned up no sign of Seibold.

An Alaska wildlife trooper flying a Piper PA-18 Super Cub located the Ambler River cabin and landed there Tuesday but did not see any sign of Seibold, Ipsen said.

“It didn’t look like he’d been there for weeks,” she said.

High wind in the region stalled the search until later in the week, according to Ipsen. She said partially open waterways and a lack of snow have made ground searching with snowmobiles or four-wheelers impossible.

Song described Seibold as a wanderer.

In a letter to the school, Seibold indicated he was thinking about trekking farther out from the cabin to build a shelter deeper in the wilderness, Song said. It’s unclear, however, if Seibold made it back to the cabin.

Several years ago, Seibold completed a year-long wilderness guide program in the Nicolet National Forest in northern Wisconsin, Song said. He also has taken survival courses, according to Song, who said Seibold is capable of living off the land for extended periods.

“I’m confident that, if he’s not injured and has adequate calories to keep himself going, he’s going to be alright,” he said.

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