Alaska’s State Medical Examiner Office determined that remains found on an isolated island north of Kodiak in September are those of François Guenot, a French adventurer. Guenot vanished in May after undertaking an arduous kayaking trip.
Raised in Maiche, France, Guenot initially appeared in villages around Lake Iliamna in Southwest Alaska last year after claiming to have walked, canoed and bicycled his way across Canada and through Alaska. On the way, even crossing notoriously dangerous Cook Inlet on a makeshift kayak created from two broken ones. Yet he didn’t want to stop his travels at Lake Iliamna, with ambitious goals of making it across to the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia.
In May, the 32-year-old told a friend in Kokhanok of his plans to kayak to Perryville, hundreds of miles away on the south coast of the Alaska Peninsula. Guenot was last seen alive on May 9th near Kokhanok, according to Alaska State Troopers.
The following months for Guenot’s family were spent on searching for the adventurer and clinging onto hope, though authorities were not as keen to. “AST has no current plans to start up another active search,” said spokesperson Megan Peters in August, three months after his disappearance. “The information we have suggests that the man was lost at sea.”
Two months before, in June, Katmai park rangers had found a kayak believed to belong to Guenot about 12 miles south of Cape Douglas on the beach. A waterproof bag was also discovered just three miles south of the boat, which resulted in a U.S. Coast Guard aircraft and vessel search for the area that was called off shortly after nothing came up.
Then in September, Alaska State Troopers received indication of a Kodiak Island Trails Network beach clean-up volunteer who had found human remains on the east side of Shuyak Island, about 70 miles from Kodiak. Upon arrival, troopers transported the findings to the state medical examiner’s office for further investigation.
“At the time of the discovery, the sex of the body was unknown due to extensive decomposition,” an online Alaska State Troopers dispatch reads.
As a result, examiners used dental record comparison in order to positively identify the remains as those of François Guenot. His family was soon after notified.
Before his ill-fated journey, Guenot had survived plunging into a river and running out of food on a solo walk amid December through the treacherous Yukon Territory.