Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Southern California and far-away places. Hiking, wildlife, cycling etc.

Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby OtherHand » Fri Feb 19, 2016 2:55 pm

That's the first I've seen of that reporting and suspect it's in error. I'm not certain where I got the info (I think it was from one of the JTNP SAR guys) but when the Sheriff investigators checked out the condo Ewasko was staying they found a large number of maps. I never heard any further details specifically as to which maps. But I'm pretty confident he was travelling with some sort of JTNP map. Also my info was that Ewasko visited JTNP almost annually and was pretty familiar with the park (I'm not sure where he had been in the past). Of course this a little at odds with the turn by turn directions found in his car for getting to the Juniper Flats trail head, so I dunno.
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby rach » Fri Feb 19, 2016 5:36 pm

Yeh I figured it sounded a bit odd if true that it hadn't come up, it would make a lot of difference to where he could be if he was navigating with only a compass, but was the first time I'd heard about him having no map.
People a year later with information no one else has heard? speculation? or just un true. After all, Bill had supposedly planned to go to Carey's Castle that morning, so what he packed originally may have been just for that area, after he changes his mind he gets directions to the Juniper flats trail head but not a map for SWC area as he wasn't planning on going near it that day.
Of course that's just guess work, and how does he not ping anymore cell towers on his way there or get himself rescued? *shrug*
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby RichardK » Sat Feb 20, 2016 7:19 am

rach wrote:After all, Bill had supposedly planned to go to Carey's Castle that morning, so what he packed originally may have been just for that area, after he changes his mind he gets directions to the Juniper flats trail head but not a map for SWC area as he wasn't planning on going near it that day.


Bill did not intend to hike Carey's Castle that day. From Tom's Bill Ewasko Search Chronology: "Ewasko told Mary he was w/b on I-10 in the area of Monterrey Avenue." Carey's Castle is east bound from the Monterrey Avenue exit of I-10, not west bound. Likely, Mary thought Bill was going to Carey's because it was first on his list. Bill understood Mary's objections to Carey's applying to whatever day he got around to hiking it. Bill intended to do the second hike on his list, Lost Horse/Quail, from the beginning.

How can the newspaper and their source know that Bill did not have a map with him? It makes no sense. Maps were found in the condo. Bill didn't tell anyone "I'm not taking a map." How could they know? Only if and when Bill's remains are found and if his pack is intact can we know what he was carrying.
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby adamghost » Sun Feb 21, 2016 2:17 pm

Tom - Do you know if it's possible to park your car at the north end of Quail Wash, at the southern outskirts of Joshua Tree, and walk in that way? Or is that area private property?
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby OtherHand » Sun Feb 21, 2016 7:26 pm

As far as I know all that area in the vicinity of the Overhill/Uphill intersection is private property, mostly unfenced. There seems to be large gaps in the developed parcels so as long as you're keeping a modest profile and not walking through a developed property I'd assume you could pass through there.
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby adamghost » Fri May 06, 2016 1:38 pm

I did try this entry point over the weekend and it was fairly easy to get down into Quail Wash from JT Village. Much nicer walk than the horrible slog down and back from Park Road (which isn't difficult so much as tedious).

I sent in a report to Tom and posted a video here:

https://youtu.be/xBocFWbNZow

I thought after getting out there I finally had a scenario for Bill's disapperaance (that doesn't involve any tin-foil-hatness) that I could buy. Once I got home and went through the tracks and Tom's previous reports, as often happens, I got more doubtful...not that it's a bad theory but that the most likely areas in question has been more heavily covered than I thought. I sketched out the idea on my report, but it basically says that Bill gets turned around up Quail Mountain, takes a while to get down after some kind of injury, starts heading up Johnny Lang to Quail Wash, phone pings at 10.6 at Quail (where there is reliable reception), the phone immediately dies (because otherwise he'd just call out) and proceeds onward to the north from there and expires.

This requires a couple of dubious things to happen (the phone automatically dying, Bill not turning towards Park Road or water in SWC, missing the searchers who are nearby hours later, somehow deviating from Quail Wash when he's only a few miles from safety, not pinging a tower earlier, etc.), but it at least makes topographic and timeline sense. It doesn't require Bill to do anything totally illogical or beyond his physical ability (e.g. climbing a huge mountain when there are easier routes available to him).

More to the point, because of the topography and proximity to roads and trailheads, I can't think of a single plausible place outside of Upper Covington (which is itself a stretch) for Bill's phone to go off at 10.6 besides Quail Wash. I know it seems like there's lots of places, but when I go through the problems with any single other spot, I just can't buy it (and this is ignoring the reception issue). Can any of you?

When the report goes up and people can see the map of the tracks, I'd love to hear peoples' thoughts about places Bill might have gone assuming that's where the phone went off. There are areas north of the SWC canyon mouth that I think could get looked at harder on the chance that Bill was heatstroked and wandered somewhere unlikely. It might make a good candidate area for others on the board who want to look around. It's not particularly difficult terrain and it's fairly easy to access from JT Village.
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby Ric Capucho » Sat May 07, 2016 10:50 pm

Tim also posted some further information ("Some Clarifications") that's come to light from the Police file, which might shed a little more light on the circumstances that led to Bill's disappearance. Read it yourself, but note that the evidence is that Bill set off with a very low amount of water indeed.

Ric

http://www.otherhand.org/home-page/search-and-rescue/searching-for-bill-ewasko/some-case-clarifications-from-the-riverside-county-sheriffs-office/
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby RichardK » Mon May 09, 2016 9:05 am

The clarifications serve only to deepen the mystery. It is difficult to understand why Bill carried only 2 12 oz. bottles of water for a 12 mile warm weather hike. As an experienced hiker, he would have carried more than that in Georgia. What was the point of leaving 9 bottles in a cooler in the car? When was he planning on drinking those? On the way to Pappy and Harriet's? Tom says that this proves Bill didn't do Lost Horse first as he would have used those bottles there and taken more for Quail. If Bill didn't do Lost Horse first, then we have no explanation for his late arrival at the Juniper Flats parking area.

Let me give you an alternate scenario. Bill goes to Lost Horse first. He carries 2 bottles for that shorter hike. When he gets to Juniper Flats, Bill has a senior moment and forgets to put more water in his pack. Somewhere into the Quail Mtn. hike, Bill discovers his error. If he turns back to retrieve the water, he loses too much time to complete the hike. Summit fever takes over and Bill presses ahead. After all, he thinks, I have a chest full of ice water waiting for me in the car. Heat and dehydration take hold. There are accounts in the thread showing just how quickly heat and dehydration lead to mental confusion and hallucinations. Bill wanders randomly and eventually passes away.

With all due respect, the presence of water in Bill's car makes the Smith Water Canyon theory less likely. If Bill realizes he has a water emergency, why hike 2 miles out of his way to a 2 mile long canyon where the exact location of any water is not marked on the topo map or given in guidebooks? Anyone in that situation would make a beeline to a car where ice water is waiting.

Adam - Thank you for continuing to search. I think your original conclusions posted long ago are still the truth of the case:

1. Bill is in some remote, rugged, never visited part of the park
2. Bill is in an area already searched, but is extremely well hidden
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby Ric Capucho » Tue May 10, 2016 3:02 am

Hi Richard,

And hoping you're keeping the alligators at bay.

I proposed a very similar scenario amongst the emails that have been flying around these last few days.

The counterargument is that those first two bottles would have been burned through so quickly during a hypothetical Lost Horse Loop that Bill couldn't have walked past his water stash no matter how senior a moment he was having. The first hike would have served as a wake up call, so in a way not taking a first hike makes it more likely he had only two bottles, if you see what I mean.

Ric
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby RichardK » Tue May 10, 2016 6:05 am

Hi Ric - I see your point. However, we then have the question of why did Bill carry 9 bottles of water that he had no intention of drinking? Even if he skipped Lost Horse and went directly to Juniper Flats, 2 bottles of water is not nearly enough to hike Quail Mtn. It makes no sense that he had 11 bottles of water in the car and carried only 2 bottles for a 12 mile warm weather hike. I think Bill hiked Lost Horse first. It being morning, the weather was not all that warm yet. He may not have consumed both bottles. When he gets to Juniper Flats, he is in a hurry. We know his start time was late for that hike and he wanted to be out of the park by 5:00PM. In his haste to get going, he forgot to put more water in his pack.
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