That part of me that conflicts with my Cartesian mind. Thank you for your help. I also couldn’t help admiring him. He betrayed Justin. A coroner … What are the motives of these fake holly men killing tourists? According to deputies, 26-year-old Justin Alexander Carter was last seen in the early hours of September 27 - around 4 a.m. - on River Watch Drive in Greenville County. Most likely a predator. He felt compelled to help search. Rawat had invited him on a “spiritual trek” toward the river’s source at Mantalai Lake. I was deeply impressed. CR seemed to be suspicious of the baba. Lee didn’t believe it, so he immediately filed a police report at the small station nearby. At around 4 p.m., Kunwar reached the cliff-edge section of trail above a 100-plus-foot, near-vertical rock slide down to boulders and churning waters. The long list of those adventurous travelers who go missing while exploring off the beaten track places. Here was a man who wasn’t just surviving in a cave but seemingly thriving. “He wants to mentor me in the ways of the Sadhu; of Shiva—The First Yogi,” Alexander wrote in his final blog post. “Some babas are very charming and outgoing, but this baba was rough and crude,” he says. He was questioned during 8 days. To many who lived in the area, Rawat was not an authentic sadhu. Justin went to the Indian Himalayas, to Khir Ganga in Parvati Valley, a place of pilgrimage and meditation. The long list of those adventurous travelers who go missing while exploring off the beaten track places. He was ready to play big, and when you play big, it’s all or nothing.” Skeels, however, thinks that sleeping in a cave in the Himalayas was simply Alexander pushing himself physically, and that the “don’t look for me” line was written to attract followers. At around 13,500 feet, the icy moraine produces no trees for either shelter or firewood. Justin Alexander (left) and Andrey Gapon in the Parvati Valley, just prior to the American traveler departing for Mantalai Lake. In fact, he hoped that it would turn out simply amazing. With wonder. And read his last post. Andrey Gapon, a 47-year-old Russian man, had spent three months on a self-made spiritual retreat in the Parvati Valley, deep in the Indian Himalayas. In India, he and Reeb met with U.S. embassy officials in the capital before traveling north into the mountains. Now he killed himself while in custody so really no conclusions can be drawn, but the whole thing is shady as fuck. Recently he was on a bike trip around india on a royal enfield motorcycle. He got the signs. The story contradicted both of Rawat’s accounts. They can bless or curse. And here are my assumptions (as fallible as they are): Justin was searching for something. i knew him from christopher ryan’s podcast, and followed his instagram for a while before this incident. The one where he (so very subtly) expressed his reservations about that trip. Ultimately, it was probably what lured him to the company of the Baba and his last trip. Each summer, monsoon rains return to the Parvati Valley, turning the hills lush and the river turbulent. But he was just pursuing a fraud. Recently he was on a bike trip around india on a royal enfield motorcycle. In the rest of the country, hotel and guesthouse owners are required by law to log their patrons into an online database, but in the Parvati, the vast majority travel in and out without record. Through their investigation, the police who oversee the Parvati Valley favored explanations that didn’t point to another murder of a foreigner in their district. Alexander’s iPhone, which he used to post on Instagram and Facebook, has never been recovered. The Frenchman hiked three hours to Khir Ganga to find the one person he knew was with Alexander last. For years, he had dreamed of driving over one of the highest motorable mountain passes in the world, the 17,582-foot Tanglang La, and into the remote region of Ladakh, the northernmost tip of India. A 26-year-old man reported missing over the weekend has been found safe. “There was a smile,” says Gapon, referring to the winking emoji Alexander used as punctuation at the end of his final blog post. The video fades to black. Justin left with the Baba around the 24th of August 2016. He was last seen walking down the track. Skeels had briefly crossed paths with Alexander over the July 4, 2015, weekend in Big Sur, California, and had remained in touch with him. The pair consults local law enforcement, friends of the missing and a psychic medium for answers. He hoped (maybe against all odds) that it would turn out just fine. “It’s very easy to have accidents in that area, no matter how conscious you are.”. Telling his last story. So many have fallen to the predatory ways of these men and end up being betrayed by them. Strapped to the back of the motorcycle, with a white star painted over each ear, was Alexander’s helmet. Missing trekkers have cast a shadow on Himachal Pradesh's booming tourism business A spate of missing trekkers (the latest being American national Justin Alexander Shetler) in the upper reaches of Himachal Pradesh has become a matter of acute embarrassment for the External Affairs Ministry. “You couldn’t help but think that he was going to wander around the corner, all skinny and emaciated, and say, ‘Tom! Awhile ago, HE published several articles by my friend Justin Alexander. The next shot is of the Parvati River, thrashing and foaming and spewing mist. It brings forth the buried, from the deep layers of our psyche.”. It is a phenomenon known as India syndrome, not a clinical diagnosis but a spectrum of behavioral changes that range from the benign (disorientation and anxiety) to the extreme (a total detachment from reality). Or enduring the hardships of an ascetic life in the Parvati Valley. To have your remains carried downstream by the holy waters is a blessing that frees your soul from the endless and torturous cycle of reincarnation. He’s a world traveller and does lots of adventures. The travelers who feel drawn to the Parvati Valley, more than a full day’s bus ride north of New Delhi into the Himalayas, quickly settle into a pace of life common in this remote corner of India: a blur of weeks or months spent meditating, practicing yoga, and consuming copious amounts of hash grown in clandestine plantations or from plants that sprout wild along river and road. Justin was never to be found. In Justin's own words, "If I’m not back by then, don’t look for me " Skeels and Kunwar scrambled down the scree and slippery rock to the riverbank. Rather than reporting the American missing to the police, the porter and the sadhu descended to Khir Ganga and said nothing. To criminal intent. In Hindu tradition, it is supposed to be the place where Shiva’s warrior-son, Kartikaya, meditated for 3000 years. “I think he came to a point where he realized that just being able to survive in tough conditions is not enough to really be free,” Gapon says. Still, desire for a life-changing experience overwhelmed fear. Meanwhile, Lee and a group of Indian trekking guides familiar with the area searched around Khir Ganga on foot. In fact, he disappeared barely one year ago and he already became just another name on a list. It really touched me. Recently he was on a bike trip around india on a royal enfield motorcycle. “Justin led a life that many people wanted to lead,” Skeels remembers. Above his final blog post, Alexander had attached a video. He left with a local holy man on or about the 24th of August. In 2009, he joined a friend in Miami to work for a tech startup focused on luxury goods, which allowed him to travel, eat at Michelin-starred restaurants, and stay in fancy hotels. But it’s no longer sustainable for us to give it away for free. Nagas are notorious for violence and cannibalism. Rawat sent the porter ahead to begin preparing food, Alexander followed, and Rawat held back because his knees were hurting. The last photo of Justin shows him looking tense and unwell and not his usual smiling self. And he was last seem by a group of trekkers, on his way down from Mantalai lake, on the 3rd of September. He was homeless for some time. But the glitz of the job didn’t impress Alexander for long. As a teenager, McElroy remembers, Alexander wanted to live a near-mythological saga. A spate of missing trekkers (the latest being American national Justin Alexander Shetler) in the upper reaches of Himachal Pradesh has become a matter of acute embarrassment for the External Affairs Ministry. Others were drawn to what his adventures represented: Alexander was minimalist but not rejectionist. Alexander established a reputation for being fearless. "They are holy men but wild, and are even above the law in India. Something that was missing from his life. An extremely alluring and appealing part of the Valley’s trekking experience. He replaced any form of hesitation with undaunted openness, he papered over any sense of skepticism with blind trust, and he quickly matured any honest curiosity into determined action. At the trailhead outside Kalga, a village of guesthouses and orchards where the road fades to footpath, Alexander handed Gapon his iPhone and asked him to take his picture to mark the “beginning of a spiritual journey.” The men hugged, and Alexander walked up the path into the forest. Rawat told Alexander he had cut off his penis in an extreme repudiation of lust. Mind me, I never met Justin. When Lee and several other friends confronted him, the sadhu became angry, saying, “Justin is crazy.” Rawat claimed the American had left him after they met some trekkers near Mantalai Lake and that Alexander headed higher up the valley with them. However Alexander’s journey ended, something happened at Mantalai Lake. I won’t die.” Alexander wasn’t after complete solitude, but he wanted the space to quietly meditate and actively test his mettle while living in a cave with few supplies. There was a first-aid kit and an extensive array of survival items. As if Justin’s ghost was haunting me, but without scaring me. Justin trusted him. Many visitors come to venerate Shiva, husband of Parvati and one of the most exalted and popular gods in the Hindu pantheon. Distraught loved ones post stories of the missing on social media, online message boards, and travel forums with scattered details and few clues. Looking for something else? They said the sadhu was arguing with Alexander when they first approached, and Alexander told them that he was hungry and tired and wanted to descend. There is only one road in and out of the Parvati Valley. After the flute was found, Tom McElroy flew to India to see if his experience in tracking could uncover clues. In his own words: “I’ve been cold, damp, and hungry a lot recently, and feeling a bit malnourished and weak already.”. Gapon offered to go with him, but Alexander said it was a journey he wanted to do with a sadhu, a Hindu holy man who renounces possessions in a search for enlightenment. His smartphone didn’t disgust him; it enabled him to tell his story. If Justin really thought the man was a danger to him, he shouldn't have gone with him. Unfortunately the Parvati Valley is also known for hashish consumption, mostly among the hippie foreigners who go there in search of new-age-drug-induced enlightenment, and dance to the sound of trance music till they drop. Justin Alexander Flores Samaro, is a Missing Person / Runaway Juvenile who was last seen in the 1300 blk of Major Hill Rd., Snow Camp, N.C., at 9:45 a.m., Friday September 4, 2020. Most simply vanished without a trace in this one sliver of the subcontinent. “It was smaller and leaker [sic] than I hoped, so most mornings I hiked an hour down the mountain to sit in the sacred hot springs of Khir Ganga to warm up.”. Those who want to transcend. When you buy something using the retail links in our stories, we may earn a small commission. Nearly a year has gone by, since the American trekker Justin Alexander Shetler went missing in the Himachal Pradesh, North India. “It’s like a bomb,” Mittal says. The list of the somehow “peculiar” people, who don’t strictly follow the rules and patterns of common social behaviour. The media often reports on such disappearances. But Alexander was also adept in the more contemplative forms of awareness, including Brown’s practice of returning to a single square foot in the wild, a “sit spot,” to listen and notice slight changes in the environment. I think Justin was seen by some hikers after he left the baba. They had emailed and messaged frequently while Alexander was traveling, but she had a “foreboding” feeling about the sadhu. It just means one has to be extra carefull. It was August 22, 2016. “When Justin got lost, there was so much effort to find him,” says Negi, adding that the police had never before used a helicopter to search for a missing foreigner. He went on to teach at a children’s camp associated with the school. The baba is/was suspected to have knowledge on the fate of Justin. For some who met Alexander in the Parvati Valley, while it seemed unlikely, it also didn’t seem far-fetched that he might have voluntarily disappeared. “He left his backpack, passport, everything—and just ran away.” Some become so infatuated with India that they find a quiet niche or anonymity among the throng and never return home. After two hours, the police flew back to Kullu, leaving Skeels to continue on foot downstream to Khir Ganga. Over the past 25 years, according to both official and unofficial reports, at least two dozen foreign tourists have died or disappeared in and around the Parvati Valley. A spate of missing trekkers (the latest being American national Justin Alexander Shetler) in the upper reaches of Himachal Pradesh has become a matter of … It is the dearth of bodies that turns the Parvati Valley into India’s backpacker Bermuda Triangle. It’s a good excuse to give all of you word of advise: be carefull of these pretense holly men. Rawat had a reputation in Khir Ganga for petty theft from negligent tourists, and Lee never had a good feeling about the sadhu. “The only time I’ve been freaked out and anxious was when he was in India,” she remembers. A selfie Justin Alexander took in Nepal's Mustang Valley in the spring of 2014 and posted to Instagram. A part of me that I’ve kept hidden (even from myself) all my life. Actually, in all our paths. Beneath Alexander’s glamorous tales was a person searching for higher meaning, sometimes at the expense of sensibility. Outside Online aims to deliver readers the world, dispatching our writers and photographers to the ends of the earth to report the one-of-a-kind stories that have inspired and informed generations of readers. To my brother and my friend, all my love 'til we meet again. Tucked inside was a piece of lined paper on which Alexander had drawn a nag chhatri, a rare trillium flower found at high elevations in the Himalayas that is sought out for its healing properties, a natural panacea. All for a price, of course. The mist fades, and Rawat appears through a cloud of smoke, in his hut, smoking a chillum. I have traveled in the past and was always a concern of mine, not for me but for my family. That is, until I received the “Roads and Kingdoms” (those of you who follow my facebook page already know it’s my favourite blog) newsletter and read the post “Death on the Hippie Trail”, by Ariel Sophia Bardi. "I've been living in some caves in the Indian Himalayas for the last couple weeks," Justin Alexander posted on Instagram, including this photo of the inside of his cave. Police were called when neighbors reported a woman having sex with her pit bull in her backyard in broad daylight. And he ignored what his instinct was telling him: that all this smelled of danger, that things were not as they seemed. Only the man survived. And this became my idea of Justin. Few countries on earth draw spiritual tourists in such zealous droves as India. Most of the trail from the lake is a gradual traverse across moraine and alpine meadow, but there is one section, as the trail approaches the tree line, where it fringes a cliff edge above the river. Disenchanted and restless, he sold the majority of his belongings, packed a backpack, and took off. Others might have been targeted after being caught up in the lucrative drug trade, buying hash at the source and selling it to tourists. But his mind (and soul?) He was last seen 2 hours south of Mantalai Lake on his way back to his guest house. On Monday morning, deputies said Justin Alexander Carter was safe. In the name of money, drugs, or God knows what. In early November, as the official investigation waned, Skeels drove the motorcycle, with Lee and McElroy following in a support vehicle, along the cliff-cut roads heading out of the Parvati Valley towards the 17,582-foot Tanglang La, the pass into Ladakh, to continue their friend’s journey. In his endless search, this presented a unique opportunity for learning. He was an holly man. He has not been seen since September 3rd, when he was photographed with some hikers while returning from his trek. He submitted himself to all sorts of extreme situations, seemingly carefree, always looking for… what? If I’m not back by then, don’t look for me ;).”. The path to Mantalai Lake, high in the Parvati Valley, follows the Parvati River to its glacial source. He was clearly in a hurry to get to his belongings as soon as possible. After all, at the end of the day was he just soul-searching or was it something else? She told her son that she was worried about his plan but didn’t try to convince him not to go. “I didn’t want to persuade him not to go,” recalls Gapon, but he was concerned. He spent all his life searching for something. By the end of September, Alexander hadn’t returned from the mountains. One of his favorite books growing up was Joseph Campbell’s 1949 classic, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, in which the author presents an archetypal “hero’s journey.” The first step is a feeling or call to adventure, Campbell writes. The valley may appear idyllic, but it holds a dark past. Alexander got his GED and then held jobs as a wilderness EMT and a massage therapist. Life Missing trekkers have cast a shadow on Himachal Pradesh's booming tourism business. This longing for the Truth seemed to be what motivated Justin Alexander Shetler. The sadhu gave a different version of what happened at Mantalai Lake than what he had told Lee in Khir Ganga. I simply had to write his last tale (presumptuous, am I not?). The trekkers said Justin looked exhausted and ill. Before leaving for Mantalai Lake with Rawat, he joked to Gapon, “If I die, write something nice about me on Facebook.” Alexander mentioned that one day it would be nice if there was a website where peoples' digital trails could serve as a eulogy to their lives. A selfie Justin Alexander took in Nepal's Mustang Valley in the spring of 2014 and posted to Instagram. He would sit on mats around the sadhu’s fire pit smoking chillum, watching him perform complicated yoga asanas, and, when a Hindi speaker was present to translate, learning from him. The Baba ended up being arrested by the local police. Santorini: the stereotype or the ultimate Mediterranean getaway. i was very close to justin. And he invited Justin to join him on a pilgrimage to the remote Mantalai lake, to meditate. They come to sit where the Buddha achieved enlightenment under a bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya; they come to wander Rishikesh, where the Beatles spent weeks in an ashram in 1968 penning songs; and they come for the Maha Kumbh Mela, believed to be the largest religious gathering on the planet, where in 2013 an estimated 30 million people congregated in a single day. He never arrived. Now he’s gone missing and his friends and family have enlisted a … He was born in Sarasota, Florida, as Justin Alexander Shetler, but later in life began using his middle name as his surname, and moved around the West after his parents divorced. He was simply too fascinated, mesmerized by this strange, unfathomable man, he wanted to KNOW. When he was 16, his mother, Suzie Reeb, withdrew Alexander from high school and enrolled him in the Wilderness Awareness School. Now Alexander was embarking on a three-day trek to a holy site called Mantalai Lake, where he would camp under the stars with few supplies. Rawat divulged that a third person, a porter he’d hired, had accompanied them to Mantalai. What's become of Justin Alexander Shetler? Did Alexander slip and tumble into the river? “If there’s one guy who could jump through that window, it would be him,” he says. All in the name of his Search. But this time was different. (Photo: Courtesy of Andrey Gapon). In her FIR, Reeb has said she suspects that the baba and his men may have kidnapped Justin. But the country has a way of taking hold of the spiritually curious and turning innocent idealism into devoted fervor. Justin Alexander Shetler “MOM, I am fine. Then he got immensely rich and had a taste of luxury. “His life was about looking for something bigger,” Frey says. Among the vanished are people from Canada, Israel, Japan, Italy, Czech Republic, Russia, Netherlands, Switzerland, and Australia. So, he could teach Justin how to end his. “I was worried because even though Justin has always been a trusting person, he’s also an incredibly good judge of character.” But when Frey read what Alexander wrote about the sadhu before he departed for Mantalai Lake, something was unsettling. He’s a world traveller and does lots of adventures. “I think he was on a spiritual quest,” she says. Help fund our award-winning journalism with a contribution today. Three days after Skeels and Reeb filed the report, police and a small search team that included Skeels landed by helicopter along the trail below Mantalai Lake. thank you for this. Alongside, bodies are burned at designated ghats, concrete steps that fringe the river, where fires consume flesh in round-the-clock cremations. He carried the clothes on his back, a sleeping bag, a machete, and a few other essentials, but no tent or stove. According to the official report, when the officer returned, he found that the sadhu had hanged himself with his dhoti. Wherever her son traveled, Suzie Reeb rarely felt nervous. Reeb struggled to keep her composure. It’s a narrow track—roughly paved in parts, washed-out dirt in others—along which rattletrap buses swerve and screech to a crawl with inches to spare as they pass. Be United Missing Persons Starting again By Tee M... Iman Harrell- missing since 10/16/2019; Justice Kay Sherwood- missing since 10/15/2019; Rosemary Salazar Rodriguez- missing since 10/6/2019; Mengqi Ji Elledge- missing since 10/8/2019; Daphne Westbrook- missing since 10/6/2019 Of Justin’s shadow in my mind. August 22, 2016: A US national Justin Alexander Shelter (35), went missing while trekking in the Parvati Valley. He dropped out of school. I want to see the world through his eyes, which are essentially 5,000 years old, an ancient spiritual path. Or had he simply discarded his flute and butane lighter near the churning waters? Following her friend online, Tracy Frey had noticed a shift in the tone of Alexander’s photos and writing. He followed him up the challenging path of enlightenment. 11.1k Followers, 553 Following, 439 Posts - See Instagram photos and videos from Justin Alexander (@adventuresofjustin) A drug addict with a sick mind. The one he wrote just before going on his last adventure. The majority of cases Mittal sees are the result of foreigners pushing themselves into increasingly dangerous situations, emotionally and physically, on some form of a spiritual quest. Justin Alexander followed the spiritual crowds to the Parvati Valley, but he never walked the typical path. (Photo: Courtesy of Andrey Gapon), On July 28, Andrey Gapon met Alexander in Khir Ganga, a ramshackle camp of wooden pole, tarpaulin, and corrugated aluminum structures that many Parvati Valley visitors see as the end point of their informal pilgrimage. “For India speaks to the unconscious: it provokes it, makes it boil and sometimes overflow. Not to renounce the world or become enlightened but to wander alone in these majestic Himalaya,” he wrote. "I've heard stories about the magical powers of these Babas," Justin Alexander posted on Instagram about Sat Narayan Rawat, the sadhu. Walking alongside was an American man, 35-year-old Justin Alexander, a seasoned traveler and experienced outdoorsman who’d impressed Gapon with his wilderness survival skills, having just spent weeks living in a mountain cave. No other details were released. 1 thought on “ Justin Alexander Shetler – my truly Wonderer ” Lily December 6, 2016 at 5:25 pm. He wrote that he was “feeling the need for some alone time with mother Himalaya.” When he arrived in the valley, he messaged Christofer Lee, a French traveler Alexander had connected with online a year earlier. It was likely the first foreigner he’d met who had been living in the country long-term. Although it all seems incredibly romantic, it was not. And his path appeared to be one not of disassociation but of action, as if he were the protagonist in his own epic novel. “P.s. seemed restless. Puffing on his chillum (hash pipe), giving its best to look holly and ethereal, he impressed Justin with his contortion-like so-called yoga asanas. When he heard from someone at the Tracker School how to fall safely from a tree, he climbed 50 feet up and let go. Those Westerners who look for spiritual experiences wherever they can find them, either in a hash pipe or by emulating the sadhus who take them as pupils and promise them the wonders of Heaven. He arrived in the city of Varanasi, one of the country’s strongest spiritual magnets, where Hindu pilgrims bathe in the holy Ganges River to have their sins washed away. The blog post was a great smokescreen, and the Baba is a great scapegoat. “It didn’t feel like he was accurately judging this man.”. As they lurk everywhere. He once called himself reserved and a self-proclaimed loner who found solace in nature, but others knew him as someone who thrived on human connection. Justin Alexander Shetler is missing. “I think he wanted to push himself even beyond his own norm, and it probably snowballed into doing things that were more and more risky,” McElroy says. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Alexander epitomized this. He appears calm and stoic. The isolation and lack of regulation only add to the draw. Find more newsletters on our. A 26-year-old man reported missing over the weekend has been found safe. But one that calls for caution. 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From our audience every day about how much they love our long-form journalism station nearby for family..., over the course of his belongings in Kasol “ adventures of Justin ” thundering in their ears alluring the... Have returned began traveling the world or become enlightened but to wander alone the. Is a great scapegoat teach at a children ’ s crowd funding campaign, meditate! A part of the Universe ” and worried that he was simply too fascinated, mesmerized by this,. Strapped to the police effectively closed the case of Justin isolation and lack regulation. Somehow “ peculiar ” people, who don ’ t believe it, makes it boil and sometimes.. Gray justin alexander missing 1 thought on “ Justin Alexander ( left ) and Andrey Gapon in the hight Himalayas across... Released him, trying to understand him and writing hanged himself with his dhoti is just. Lying down me no, Justin was seen by some hikers while returning from his trek ’. 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