Joshua McClatchy has been missing for nearly a week since setting out on Arkansas’ Buckeye Trail in the Caney Creek Wilderness last Friday, reports say.
Now, as search efforts stretch to one week, the 38 year old’s family says they haven’t lost hope that he will be found safe.
McClatchy’s sister, Miranda Balduf, told ABC affiliate WFAA that McClatchy texted their mother photos of his travels last Saturday morning. He sent another text five hours later saying he was lost, making the last time his family heard from him.
“Hey mom, I need your help,” he wrote in the text, according to Balduf. “Remain calm and we’ll get through this.”
Balduf told WFAA of McClatchy: “My brother is very smart and was well prepared for this trip. He loves hiking, camping and the outdoors. He was extremely excited about this trip. He spoke about the trip during all of our conversations for the last month.”
A spokesperson for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office in Mena confirmed the news to PEOPLE, adding that “several agencies are involved” in the search for McClatchy, with new agencies joining the efforts almost every day.
A volunteer in the search, John Obeidin, wrote in a Facebook post that McClatchy “lost the trail about 2 miles from the trailhead.”
Authorities found McClatchy’s car at the Buckeye trailhead, but there was no sign of the man, ABC News reported.
“We’re still very hopeful — we’ve not wavered in that,” Balduf told ABC. “And the entire search and rescue team is very hopeful also. They’re committed to rescuing him.”
The family has set up a GoFundMe page to support search efforts. In just two days, more than 150 people donated more than $9,000.
In a Facebook post, Balduf described the area where McClatchy is believed to be as “survivable,” adding that “it isn’t dangerous.” But McClatchy’s mother, Jen McClatchy, told ABC that the adventure was her son’s first time hiking alone.
“Josh had not been on the trail before, but he did a lot of research prepping for it,” Jen said. “He looked at several different trails over the last month and was really excited. He chose this trail because it had a waterfall and he’s attracted to waterfalls and I feel he planned very well.”
Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer said it is common for hikers to go missing in the area, but they’re usually found within a few hours, CBS affiliate KTVT reported. Meanwhile, search teams have looked for the man on foot and by air.
“We will do whatever it takes to find Mr. McClatchy and get him home to his family,” Sawyer said, according to the outlet. “We will continue searching and we will find him. The area we are searching today is extremely tough to negotiate. It’s rocky, it’s steep, and it’s thick.”
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