Ritchard Temple has disappeared while hiking between Cumberland, Md., and Harper’s Ferry, W.Va., on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal’s towpath, a 184.5-mile trail. The National Park Service released a bulletin saying his last known communications were on July 25 near Town Creek, Md.
Some of his belongings were found at the bank of the river near Town Creek in early August after NPS rangers conducted a search.
“It’s a waiting game,” said his brother, Randy Temple. “Apparently he went into the river, and a search has been done with helicopter, K-9 dogs and boots on the ground looking for him. But because he was an adult and because he suffered with [amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease)], it wasn’t a search like it is for a missing child: search, search, search until you find.
“At this point, it’s a recovery,” Randy continued. “The authorities are aware, so if and when his body is found we’ll be notified, and I’ll go up there, but there’s not an ongoing search right now other than police being aware of the situation.”
Ritch notified his family that he’d been diagnosed with ALS last fall. He spent the months prior to embarking on his hike visiting with family members, and then he returned to the hiking area that he loved shortly after July 4.
“He didn’t give us any plans; it’s just where he was at the time. We thought he would be coming back to Tennessee to be with family,” said Randy.
Once an avid event rider himself, Ritch has continued to be involved in the eventing community as a sponsor, event organizer and cross-country course designer. He was a founding member and formerly a co-owner of Broadstone Equine Insurance Agency, a longtime sponsor of the U.S. Eventing Association. He helped organize and do course design at the American Eventing Championships in Chattahoochee Hills (Ga.) and Wayne, Ill. He is an “R” technical delegate and was previously married to Canadian Olympic eventer Kelli Temple.
Ritch is 6’, weighs around 200 pounds, is 53, and has graying blond hair and glasses. He walks with a limp and has limited use of his right arm. Anyone with information pertaining to his whereabouts should contact the National Park Service’s communication center at (301)-714-2235.