Heavy Heart and Closure……

If you live in Utah, one of the top news stories since mid-October has been the disappearance of Annie Schmidt.  Annie is the daughter of Jon Schmidt of The Piano Guys which is a musical group that mixes modern music with well loved classical instrumentals.

Standard Examiner recently printed a story about finding Annie:

Finding Annie Schmidt: 1 woman’s calling to find Piano Guys lost daughter

FRIDAY , NOVEMBER 18, 2016 – 5:00 AM

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Image by: Supplied photo/Lydia McGranahan
Lydia McGranahan, left, poses with Liz Hall and Reu on Nov. 11, in the Columbia River Gorge. McGranahan was a volunteer who helped find the remains of Annie Schmidt, the Oregon hiker who had been missing since mid-October.

Mark Saal, Standard-Examiner Staff

Editor’s note: This story was updated to remove a disparity in the spelling of Munra Point and correct the date McGranahan joined the search. We apologize for the errors.

Millions of people followed the heartbreaking story of Annie Schmidt, the 21-year-old who disappeared last month in the rugged mountains of the Columbia River Gorge. But for one Oregon woman, finding Annie Schmidt became something of a calling.

Schmidt, daughter of a member of the Utah-based musical group The Piano Guys, was last seen Oct. 16, when she went hiking in the gorge. Her vehicle was found near the trailheads to several backcountry hikes.

>> READ MORE: 2 Eden men — and their dogs — help find Annie Schmidt

Lydia McGranahan, 40, lives in the small town of Keizer, Ore., just north of Salem. Like so many others, McGranahan saw the news of a missing hiker.

“It happens to be about an hour and a half from where I live,” McGranahan said by telephone Thursday. “I’m an avid hiker and know the area quite well.”

She decided to help look for Annie.

On Oct. 23, McGranahan joined the massive volunteer effort to search for Schmidt. But when the group finished for the day around noon, McGranahan wasn’t ready to leave.

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This pair of undated photos was released by the Portland, Ore., Police Bureau during the search for the young woman.
This pair of undated photos was released by the Portland, Ore., Police Bureau during the search for the young woman.
“I didn’t want to go home, it wasn’t dark yet,” she said. “So I thought, ‘I’m going to stand where Annie’s car was, and try to think like her.’ ”

There are any number of trails — covering quite a bit of ground — in the area, so McGranahan just began hiking, all the while trying to imagine where Annie might have gone.

“I started walking down one trail, and then onto another trail,” she said.

McGranahan ended at Munra Point, which OregonHikers.org describes as “an exposed basalt knob at the junction of three spiny ridges … (offering) a spectacular and exposed 360-degree view up and down the Columbia River Gorge.” The website describes it as a “nonmaintained trail,” with steep scrambles, and is “safest in dry weather.” It had rained the morning Schmidt had gone hiking.

When McGranahan got to Munra Point, she says, “It seemed like the place Annie would want to go; I felt like we should search there.”

That night, McGranahan had an intense dream. She felt herself falling, and as she fell, she saw Schmidt’s face — as if she were somehow inside her.

“I felt strongly, when I woke up from that, that Annie had fallen,” McGranahan says. “And that she was at Munra Point.”

McGranahan would spend seven days, daylight to dark, helping search for Schmidt.

On Oct. 26, McGranahan’s 40th birthday, she again joined the search. She’d originally planned on going to McKenzie River and hiking 40 miles on her 40th birthday.

“That’s what I set out to do, but then the night before, I found out the family was spending one more day searching for Annie,” she said. “And I thought, ‘I can’t do my own thing, not as long as she is missing.’ ”

That day, at the staging area, McGranahan told the search team about her dream and shared a few other clues that led her to believe Schmidt was near Munra Point. But the group had already searched that area, and had made plans for searching elsewhere. McGranahan decided to be a team player and go along with the group.

But midway through that search, one of the men in the group confided to McGranahan: “She’s not here,” he said.

So he, McGranahan and one other man decided to leave the group and search at Munra Point. They scoured potential areas where Schmidt could have fallen, even rappelling off a cliff edge that turned out to be not far from where Schmidt was found.

“After that, I felt such a strong pull,” McGranahan admits. “I’d come home, I couldn’t sleep. People were posting ‘It’s like finding a needle in a haystack,’ and I’m, like, ‘No it’s not.’ It’s not. I had this serious drive and intuition to find her.”

At one point, McGranahan’s 12-year-old daughter emerged from Sunday services at the nondenominational Christian church they attend with a premonition. “She came out to the car and said, ‘Mom, we were singing a song, and I felt like God was talking to me. He told me you’re going to find Annie.’ … I’d prepared myself that I would be the one to find her.”

On the day before McGranahan found Annie, the Schmidt family brought in eight search and rescue dog teams, led by Eden resident Joe Jennings, president of Great Basin K9 Search & Rescue. The plan was to search several high-probability areas, but when McGranahan was assigned to help in an area away from Munra Point, she asked to be reassigned.

“They’d asked me to go to a different place and I was, like, ‘No, I want to go to Munra.’ ” McGranahan recalls.

So she was teamed with Jennings and his golden retriever, Gunny, to search the area below the point.

“There was one large area I felt strongly about, knowing Annie liked to take shortcuts,” she said. “Joe was assigned that part, so I led him up there.”

The going was slow — steep, thick vegetation, a lot of bushwhacking — difficult terrain to walk on once you get off-trail. Then, it happened.

“Joe’s dog popped up his head,” McGranahan said. “I saw it immediately in Gunny — the attitude, nose up, whole body changed, faced uphill. I knew we were onto something.”

Gunny, a 9-year-old golden retriever, barks to alert searchers he’s picked up a scent in this Nov. 10 photo. He and his owner, Joe Jennings, of Eden, were instrumental in finding the remains of Annie Schmidt, the Oregon hiker who went missing in mid-October.
Gunny, a 9-year-old golden retriever, barks to alert searchers he’s picked up a scent in this Nov. 10 photo. He and his owner, Joe Jennings, of Eden, were instrumental in finding the remains of Annie Schmidt, the Oregon hiker who went missing in mid-October.
They worked their way up under the cliff, then Gunny seemed to lose the scent.

“The wind was swirling; Joe said Gunny was trying to figure it out,” McGranahan said.

Eventually, unable to pinpoint the scent, the team needed to head back down to the trailhead.

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“Joe’s dog sat at the cliff edge, head up, barking,” McGranahan recalls. “Gunny was frustrated. He did not want to go — he knew Annie was close.”

McGranahan led a second team up that afternoon, but again, they were unsuccessful.

The next morning, McGranahan headed back to the same area with a fresh search team — Wyoming-based Liz Hall and her dog, Reu.

Reu led Hall and McGranahan to a spot not far from where Gunny had taken them. It was there they found Schmidt’s remains and belongings.

Annie Schmidt was found.

Officials determined the death to be accidental; they believe she slipped and fell from the cliffs above and died on impact.

McGranahan feels fortunate she was able to help with Schmidt’s recovery — and marvels they were able to find her so quickly with the dogs.

“Fall was happening,” McGranahan said. “When Annie went missing, the leaves were still on the trees. By the time we found her, all the leaves were off the trees. The trails, the evidence on the ground, even some of Annie’s stuff — they were covered with leaves.”

This highlights the need for trained search dogs like Gunny and Reu, according to Jennings.

“A lot of the human searchers didn’t — or couldn’t — get off the trails, he said. “In that terrain, you could walk a few feet from her and never know she was there.”

Jennings said when they abandoned the search the day before Schmidt was found, they’d assumed she’d landed on one of the many ledges and overhangs on the cliffs above.

“If we’d just gone around the corner, we would have run into her,” he said.

McGranahan has had a difficult time dealing with the memories of finding Annie Schmidt’s remains — although she knows that, with time, things will get better. And she’s been invited to Monday’s funeral, and to stay with the family of one of the two other searchers she worked with on her birthday.

McGranahan has been so affected by the experience that she wants to pursue search and rescue, eventually getting a dog to train.

“I’ve been astounded at how so many people have come together in this search, in so many different ways, and how everybody’s part was valuable,” she said. “I’d come back from a day of searching — exhausted, discouraged that we hadn’t found her — and see on Facebook that hundreds and hundreds of people were encouraging you, praying for you.

“To me, when people are still praying, I cannot stop searching.”

Contact Mark Saal at 801-625-4272, or msaal@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @Saalman. Like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SEMarkSaal

The Piano Guys have released a new music video that will lift your spirits and is very appropriate for all who are mounrning the loss of Annie Schmidt.

Story behind the song:

We’ve all had that phone call. That email or that message. That conversation.

Bad news.

We’re all struggling with something – a debilitating weakness or illness. Or someone we love is barely holding on.

We watch the news. We see the tweets, the Facebook posts…the YouTube comments!

We hear about hate, terror, and despair. But just because what sells, what goes “viral,” or what gets attention may try to drown out the good in the world, it doesn’t mean that goodness is gone. Just because choruses of controversy and scandal shout louder than quiet symphonies of service, it doesn’t change the fact that, inside, most of us still genuinely want happiness — not only for ourselves, but also for our family, our friends, and our fellow human beings.

Media can make the world look bleak. They’ve given themselves this job description, in part because there’s a darker side on the surface of human nature that feeds on fear and cynicism. But deep down, we are beings of light. And in the end, since darkness is merely the absence of light, light will inevitably overcome dark.

This is the essence of hope. And the essence of this song. “No matter what you’ve been through, no matter if you think you’re falling apart, it’s gonna be okay.”

Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But we believe that someday, somehow, all things will be made right. And as the Psalm says, “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.”

In the meantime, there are so many more things to hope for and to work at while we yearn for the outcome we want so badly – more gratitude for what we have, more love for those we’ve taken for granted, more faith in ourselves and those we hold dear, and more confidence in a Divine purpose.

We felt like the best way to spread the message of this song was to supplement our standard classically-influenced instrumental niche with a more pop-driven tune featuring Al’s superb vocal skills.

As Oscar Hammerstein once said, “It is a modern tragedy that despair has so many spokesmen, and hope so few.” Please share this song with someone you think might need it today. Thank you!

CREDITS

“Okay” written by Andy Grammar and Dave Bassett
The Piano Guys Arrangement produced and written by Al van der Beek & Steven Sharp Nelson
Performed by The Piano Guys:
Al van der Beek: Vocals
Jon Schmidt: Piano
Steven Sharp Nelson: Cello, cello percussion
Mixed and mastered by Al van der Beek at TPG Studios, Utah
Video Produced by Paul Anderson
Co-Produced by Shaye Scott
Filmed by Paul Anderson & Shaye Scott
Stage Jib Operator: Bobby Fisk
Audience Cameraman: Dustin Topham
Edited by Shaye Scott
Live sound engineer: Ben Bielefeld and Alec Spear, ClearLamp productions

Recently my husband and myself have a new church calling.  Milt is the Branch President at an assisted living center and I am the Relief Society President.  One of our beloved members is the grandmother of Annie Schmidt.  She and her husband are remarkable individuals that define what it means to be strong and faithful no matter what!  We love the Schmidt family and are blessed to call them dear friends who have enlightened our lives for the eternities.

As the song declares, “It’s Gonna Be Okay…………”

The Lyrics…

Doubt is a broken record that plays inside my head.

I try to turn it down, but I can’t quite drown it out.

I’m tortured every day, these never ending worries,

Pulling on my sleeves.

So many times now I was supposed to tap out.

All the walls would fall down around me,

All anybody would tell me,

Is all that bad news how it’s gonna fall through.

But no matter what they say oh what they say. [CHORUS]

It’s gonna be, gonna be, OKAY!

It’s gonna be, gonna be, OKAY!

No matter what you’ve been through here you are.

No matter if you think you’re falling apart.

It’s gonna be OKAY! And there is a battle raging in your heart but, you must win.

It comes for all of us, saying we are not enough.

So fight for your life, the worlds gonna try,

To sell you some lies.

So many times now,

I was supposed to tap out.

All the walls would fall down around me,

All anybody would tell me is all that,

Bad news how it’s gonna to fall through,

But no matter what they say oh what they say, [CHORUS]

It’s gonna be, gonna be, OKAY!

It’s gonna be, gonna be, OKAY!

No matter what you’ve been through here you are.

No matter if you think you’re falling apart.

It’s gonna be OKAY!

 

Remember……………..

“They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.”

“It is a modern tragedy that despair has so many spokesmen, and hope so few.”

21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.

22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.

1 Corinthians 15:21-23

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