Petaluma dad waits, hoping to hear from son in Nepal following quake

PETALUMA, Calif. (KTVU) - Petaluma native Spencer Dickinson followed a traditional path: high school then junior college. Then he took an unconventional detour: a spiritual journey to the other side of the world.

Now he's among the unaccounted for in Nepal in the aftermath of the earthquake.

"I'm worried sick as a dad but I have this intuition that Spencer is okay," father Bob Dickinson told KTVU, who describes his son adaptable, outgoing, and fearless.

"He's probably up there helping with the relief effort, that's my gut feeling," he added.

21 year old Spencer, a Petaluma High School graduate, has been traveling since last fall in Sri Lanka and Thailand.

On April 19, he told his family via Skype that he was in Nepal, in a village near Mount Everest.

"It's a trekking route up to the base camp of Mount Everest and it was six to a seven day hike for him to get to the base camp," his dad explained.

By that timing, he might have been in harm's way when avalanches tore through base camp after Saturday's quake.

"There was a disconnect for me," admitted Bob, "I didn't immediately put two and two together."

There has been a possible sighting of Spencer, a guide who believes he saw him headed to a lower village before the quake, but it's unconfirmed and communication, unreliable.

"He's notorious for losing or breaking cell phones," said his dad wryly, "and there is very spotty service now with cell phone towers down, anyway."

After three days of waiting, he and other loved ones are anxious for word of Spencer's welfare.

"That's why I'm hoping that other people will maybe reach out and have other information," Bob acknowledged.

The most recent photos Spencer sent his dad show him in sunny Thailand, with a surfboard, on a beach bluff and posing with coconuts with a local resident.

He was not equipped for snow or climbing.

He was not a mountaineer," observed his father "he wanted to experience the culture and the sights and the experiences."

After high school, Spencer left the Bay Area for community college in Santa Barbara.

Then, he moved on to Los Angeles where his mother and sister live.

But restless and searching, he set off overseas with little more than a backpack.

"As a young adult, he wanted to find some of the meaning of life," smiled his dad.

"It's a very helpless feeling because there's absolutely nothing I can do."

As a solo traveler, Spencer doesn't have a guide or group to keep tabs on him.

"If I could jump on a plane and go there and dig around for him, I certainly would."