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Lost in the Valley of Death, Harley Rustad

The story on the disappearance of a world traveler, Justin Alexander Shetler, who vanished in the Indian Himalaya in Sep of 2016. He was a trained survivalist who had many followers on social media. He disappeared while on a pilgrimage led by a Hindu holy man to a sacred lake in the Parvati Valley. Considering Justin documented his life online, the author was able to piece together and quite thorough on his investigation (which originally was an article in Outside mag back in 2018). Many people and followers claimed to know him well. But as we know, social media posts are only what the person who is posting it wants you to see. Not the whole story. Harley recounts the life of a man on a spiritual journey through life… a man trying to find himself. At every turn something interesting raises its head. There are photos taken the day before he disappeared. There are the unfortunate and untimely deaths of other trekkers in the same valley. There is a sadhu who could have pushed him off the edge of a cliff, and who ended up dying in jail while in custody by the police. One thing is for certain – Justin had a positive effect on people and helped change people’s lives in a positive way. We can all be so fortunate. Many think he is still alive, living in a cave somewhere high in the Indian Himalaya, wanting to disappear and find himself where there is no self, where you blend in with nature, and everything within nature and the self is the same.


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