Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

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

Postby madmxe » Mon May 07, 2012 5:29 pm

Really interesting stuff to read. Seems hard to imagine he could disappear with all of that effort put forth to find him. Did they check his personal life out to see if all was well? I have read a couple of stories somewhere about people getting lost on purpose and starting life over.
Hope he has better luck than the hiker they just found in Anza Borrego.
That would not be a good way to go out.



[url][url][url]http://www.10news.com/news/31015346/detail.html[/url][/url][/url]
madmxe
 
Posts: 21
Joined: Mon Feb 28, 2011 12:11 pm

Postby Hikin_Jim » Mon May 07, 2012 7:14 pm

I just finished reading through the SAR narrative. Interesting reading. The scent dogs reacted positively to the red bandana as though Bill had handled it, but they also reacted positively to the Stater Bros. water bottles that were found that were clearly not Bill's. Go fish.

I also re-read all the JTxx search narratives. Looks like the area between Quail and Smith Water has gotten a fair amount of coverage although good luck on covering every nook and cranny of that. A million places to hide.

Yipes. I can see why you'd post it up here. You can thank me later for coming up with theories that you'd already thought of. :wink: I guess at least you know other back country traveller types are looking at the situation and seeing some of the same things you are.

Fresh ideas? Uh, I'll have to get back to you on that. Maybe it's something like that guy who went for a walk near Big Bear on the night of a storm. They never found him until Spring. He had crawled under a log for shelter and had succumbed to the elements. Maybe in a similar fashion Bill found some sheltered spot that would be difficult to detect and only time and dumb luck will find him.

Some people know that my dad died while out on a hike in January, 2004, near Wrightwood. It was 9 days of hell until his body was found. I can't imagine what things are like for Bill's family. I think the search for Bill is a worthy one.

I just wish I had some brilliant insight right about now. Afraid I'm a little short in the brilliant insight department at the moment. Quail to Smith Water still seems like the area somehow, but that's not much more than a hunch. I've got very little to back that up except a track visible in satellite photos, a red bandana that appears to have been found near the track, a cellphone dead zone up on the ridge that just happens to be where the track takes you, and then a single, brief ping 10.6 miles from a cell tower -- a ping that suggests that Bill traveled away from his car, perhaps into the area between Quail and Smith Water.

One further comment: My dad's gear cache wasn't found until Summer 2007 by a local who just happened to stumble across it. I had been asking around, so people knew who I was and how to contact me. A lot of that gear was toast after multiple years in the elements, but some of that gear I still have (and use). It's my way of having my dad with me. Having some of my dad's old gear is a nice thing for me, but the point is that SAR related things can still be found after multiple years. But then we already knew that based on the Death Valley German Tourist incident, didn't we?

HJ
Backpacking stove reviews and information:  Adventures In Stoving
Personal hiking blog: Hikin' Jim's Blog
User avatar
Hikin_Jim
 
Posts: 4869
Joined: Mon Oct 30, 2006 9:12 pm
Location: Orange County, CA

Postby OtherHand » Mon May 07, 2012 8:20 pm

Dogs in hot, dry weather are very iffy. See the Norman Cox search for another example. It all makes it hard to know which clues to trust. Even cell phone results can be very wacky. I've seen it myself.

I spent the last couple of days going over the entire report (yet again!), looking for anything that might have slipped by like a footprint that wasn't followed up on. Hearing a few ideas here make me think Stubbe Spring might be worth a more detailed look. Besides, if you're not going to find someone, you should at least not find him in a new and interesting place. So perhaps it's time for a Stubbe Stroll.

I liked your theories, even if they told me you hadn't yet read everything. Cause when you do read it all and hold it in your head, all of a sudden the theories stop. Nothing seems to fit it all (or at least nothing that's been thought of yet!)

I really thought the area between Quail and Smith Water would be it. It fit in a lot of ways. But it didn't pan out. I'm not inclined to go back and hit every square foot, as it's damnably hard to get into.

Oh, the track you're seeing across Juniper Flats is the extension of the old road that terminates in Juniper Flats. Some people just continue straight and head up the stinkin' face of Quail. The easier route, and it looks obviously so when you're there, is to go across Juniper Flats more easterly and take the long ridge up to the main Quail Ridge. To go right up that face when it's hot out is just nuts. I did it when it was cold and it was still a pain.
OtherHand
 
Posts: 202
Joined: Mon Dec 28, 2009 2:07 pm

Postby Hikin_Jim » Mon May 07, 2012 8:54 pm

Since my theories have proven so popular (ahem) in the past, I'll advance another.

Yes, it makes little sense that Bill would travel that danged ridge that I keep talking about, the one that basically parallels the riding and hiking trail to the east (map link), but if he for some reason wanted to use that ridge to get to Smith Water, the gully shown by points "E" through "H" on the above link would tend to be an eastern limit. In other words, he would attempt to enter Smith Water somewhere between point "I" and point "H".

I wonder if a trip to the opposite (northerly) side of Smith Water would be in order? Tough probably to see down in to the bottom of the canyon, but a guy with a good pair of binocs might be able to scan the walls of the canyon where Bill might have tried to descend and gotten cliffed out or something. Just a thought.

HJ
Backpacking stove reviews and information:  Adventures In Stoving
Personal hiking blog: Hikin' Jim's Blog
User avatar
Hikin_Jim
 
Posts: 4869
Joined: Mon Oct 30, 2006 9:12 pm
Location: Orange County, CA

Postby OtherHand » Mon May 07, 2012 9:38 pm

Hey, wait....That's MY theory!

The gully you have listed as E thru H is the most likely one for a descent into Smith Water. The saddle to the SE of Point E is the natural crossing spot over the ridge. If you use Google Earth in a perspective view from the Quail Ridge, you'll see what I mean. If you want to head toward Smith Water, that's the obvious point to shoot for. And roughly at your Point H is where a "suspicious odor" was reported by initial searchers but a source was never found.

That ravine was checked by some extremely good people from Sierra Madre SAR, so I'm satisfied the rather narrow bottom is cleared. The topography REALLY urges you into the ravine. Paul Caraher and I filled in the sides of that ravine and the surrounding area on our JT30 trip, working around the Sierra Madre GPS tracks. I, and others, have been to the saddle a number of times and it's a very nice, flat place, once you're there.

Interesting idea about the north side of Smith Water. Ugly, but interesting.
OtherHand
 
Posts: 202
Joined: Mon Dec 28, 2009 2:07 pm

Postby » Mon May 07, 2012 9:55 pm

fwiw, I started playing around with some DEM software, in theory, this is the area that has line of sight with the serin cell tower.

Image

I am missing the bottom portion for the approach to Quail, have to add another topo map :?
 
Posts: 551
Joined: Mon Jun 09, 2008 8:41 pm

Postby OtherHand » Mon May 07, 2012 10:47 pm

Zé wrote:fwiw, I started playing around with some DEM software, in theory, this is the area that has line of sight with the serin cell tower.


MicroDEM perhaps?

It took me a while to figure our where I was looking. The center, top gap is the Samuelson's Rocks area. It generally looks close, but I suspect you have the tower too high because there's way too much coverage. I think the FCC database put the tower at about 100' AGL, but I usually did my analyses at 200' AGL. I did one at 400' to see if any fringe areas appeared, but none did. the already covered areas just got lower and slightly larger. Google Earth shows the ground elevation at the Serin tower to be 3,809'.

Having used and suffered through DEM software myself, I'd suggest you look at:

http://www.heywhatsthat.com/

It's intended to tell you what's visible in a panorama from any point, but after generating a panorama there's a button in the upper right of the display called "Visibility cloak". Press that and you have yourself a splash map, very easy. And I forget off the top of my head, but it's possible to save them to Google Earth.

It's a very cool site and simple. I like simple.
OtherHand
 
Posts: 202
Joined: Mon Dec 28, 2009 2:07 pm

Postby Hikin_Jim » Tue May 08, 2012 6:32 am

OtherHand wrote:Hey, wait....That's MY theory!
Get your own theory, pal. :wink:

OtherHand wrote:The gully you have listed as E thru H is the most likely one for a descent into Smith Water. The saddle to the SE of Point E is the natural crossing spot over the ridge. If you use Google Earth in a perspective view from the Quail Ridge, you'll see what I mean. If you want to head toward Smith Water, that's the obvious point to shoot for.
Yeah, makes sense. Unfortunately, I don't have access to Google Earth, but I can just eyeball the map on that one.

OtherHand wrote:And roughly at your Point H is where a "suspicious odor" was reported by initial searchers but a source was never found.
Now that's interesting.

OtherHand wrote:Interesting idea about the north side of Smith Water. Ugly, but interesting.
Maybe worth a look.

The more I think about it, the more the roadhead at Lower Covington seems like a long shot. I think the more reasonable rationale is that Bill was after water. It's June, it's getting pretty hot out there, and by the time that ping is detected, he's on his fourth day. RSO picked him out on a security cam buying a couple of bottles of water. If he's buying bottled water, he probably doesn't have some big bladder of water hiding in the bottom of his pack. By the fourth day, he's been out of water for some time. The narrative indicates that he knew about Smith Water, although I don't see it on his itinerary that you posted. Water = survival = Smith Water Canyon may be a fixation in his mind. Dunno, but maybe worth glassing around up there. Maybe access from Lower Covington wouldn't be too bad. There's a sort of a point ("G") that looks right into the aforementioned drainage.

HJ
Backpacking stove reviews and information:  Adventures In Stoving
Personal hiking blog: Hikin' Jim's Blog
User avatar
Hikin_Jim
 
Posts: 4869
Joined: Mon Oct 30, 2006 9:12 pm
Location: Orange County, CA

Postby OtherHand » Tue May 08, 2012 7:38 am

Hikin_Jim wrote: RSO picked him out on a security cam buying a couple of bottles of water.


Huh? Where did this piece of info come from? Did I miss something?

As to Smith Water, Bill apparently had a number of lists of places he was interested in. I believe Smith Water was listed on either one found in his vehicle or back in his room. It was buried in the narrative somewhere.
OtherHand
 
Posts: 202
Joined: Mon Dec 28, 2009 2:07 pm

Postby Hikin_Jim » Tue May 08, 2012 8:05 am

OtherHand wrote:
Hikin_Jim wrote: RSO picked him out on a security cam buying a couple of bottles of water.
Huh? Where did this piece of info come from? Did I miss something?
Hmm. I'm looking at the narrative. Looks like I'm misquoting it a bit if that's what I had in mind. I also did some Google searching last night.

Here's what the narrative says:
Detective Martinez also informed us that EWASKO may have been in possession of three Safeway brand water bottles, cereal bars, bannans, and apples. Lastly, EWASKO had salami packaging and snacks.


OtherHand wrote:As to Smith Water, Bill apparently had a number of lists of places he was interested in. I believe Smith Water was listed on either one found in his vehicle or back in his room. It was buried in the narrative somewhere.
Yeah, I saw it in the narrative, but it didn't really say what it was based on nor did it have a photocopy of the document it was based on. I guess take it at face value.

HJ
Backpacking stove reviews and information:  Adventures In Stoving
Personal hiking blog: Hikin' Jim's Blog
User avatar
Hikin_Jim
 
Posts: 4869
Joined: Mon Oct 30, 2006 9:12 pm
Location: Orange County, CA

PreviousNext

Return to Outdoors-Related Topics

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest