Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

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

Postby Perry » Wed Jan 30, 2013 12:56 am

Or some form of dementia, prior to and during the hike, could explain a lot of things. This might work well with the Eureka Peak theory and explain the moved car.
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Postby drndr » Wed Jan 30, 2013 10:38 am

I just noticed OtherHands Trip JT33 covered that little finger of cell coverage I was thinking by Eureka peak. And your write up how he may have got there was exactly what I was thinking.

OH's JT 21 and 22 trips are also interesting. Did you or anyone ever hear anything more on the abandoned backpack and sleeping bag?
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Postby OtherHand » Wed Jan 30, 2013 12:00 pm

The problem with the Eureka Peak area is having to explain why he'd be there and not on one of the very good dirt roads that cover the area. If you head northerly up and out of the Stubbe Spring area the terrain forces you to either Upper or Lower Covington Flats where you run into damn fine dirt roads. Why would you leave the road? (That question asked, I did come up with a couple of reasons why someone would but they didn't check out).

I had the idea he could have got into that cell zone near Eureka Peak by coming up out of the deep canyon but not knowing of or making it to the adjacent dirt road. Another problem I saw with that theory when I was on site is that climbing out of the canyon gives a good view of the Coachella Valley, which would have lit up cell towers all over down there.

It is very difficult to come up with a plausible reason (in my mind, anyway) to put Bill over in the Covington or Eureka Peak area.

As for dementia, there is some evidence for that. But it concerns the guy who's been wandering aimlessly around out there on 45 trips. There's definitely something not right there....
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Postby drndr » Wed Jan 30, 2013 4:43 pm

yep, you'd sure think once on a road and you're in trouble, you wouldn't leave it.

What about Yoshi's abandoned back pack and sleeping bag? Was there ever a follow up?
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Postby OtherHand » Wed Jan 30, 2013 6:21 pm

drndr wrote:What about Yoshi's abandoned back pack and sleeping bag? Was there ever a follow up?


Not that was ever shared with me. For all I know it could still be there.
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Postby Myth » Thu Jan 31, 2013 8:13 am

Well ...

Almost certain that I'm going to take an overnight loop into the area between Quail Mountain and Smith Water. I'm going to comb through OtherHand's write-ups again to get some points of interest to try and take a look at, but I'm still favoring a plan where I'd see what the terrain suggests to someone who only wants to "head out towards Smith Water".

Tentatively, I likely will try to check out:

a) Area around odor location, especially that gully that hasn't been checked yet
b) Cell coverage spot, trying to range around OtherHand and company's tracks, probably widening search area a bit, too
c) The spot HikinJim pointed out with the clump of vegetation

I'll load up all the search tracks and cell coverage areas to the GPS as well.

Suggestions welcome.
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Suggestions

Postby RichardK » Thu Jan 31, 2013 2:11 pm

Myth wrote:
Suggestions welcome.


Ask about ranger Grayson at park headquarters. Was he/she there in 2010.
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Postby OtherHand » Thu Jan 31, 2013 8:50 pm

Myth wrote:Tentatively, I likely will try to check out:

a) Area around odor location, especially that gully that hasn't been checked yet


Use an abundance of caution there. It's a pretty high angle chute with lots of rock breakdown.
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Postby Myth » Thu Jan 31, 2013 10:18 pm

OtherHand wrote:
Myth wrote:Tentatively, I likely will try to check out:

a) Area around odor location, especially that gully that hasn't been checked yet


Use an abundance of caution there. It's a pretty high angle chute with lots of rock breakdown.

I will! If it looks dicey, I will avoid it entirely and feel pretty confident that Bill would have had the same reaction to it. To borrow your descriptive phrasing - I am globally adventurous and locally cautious. I might get over-excited or over-committed to a plan, but my caution is usually intact when faced with things like treacherous terrain or old mine shafts - the mine we went to was really, really interesting, but hard to see into. The planks laid across the vertical shaft just inside the entrance looked plenty sturdy, and in my youth I might have walked across - but now that my brain has finished growing, I stayed well outside and contented myself with photos of a dark hole in the hillside.

I hope to approach the area around the odor location from the south like Bill might have, and see if the terrain in that area suggests a descent. I am still trying to hash out a good plan for the hike - part of me is tempted to enter via a closer backcountry board than Juniper Flats, in order to have more time to spend in the area, and part of me really do want to see what the terrain might suggest to an impromptu wanderer.

Well, trip is confirmed now, and will proceed, barring unexpected circumstances. We'll first spend a partial day - the remainder of our travel day - exploring northeast of this area hoping to come across some pictoglyphs, then stay outside the park that night, and then enter the park for the overnighter. We'll probably leave about an hour before sunset and drive home in the dark. That makes those early Monday morning workdays that much more pleasant, dontcha know ;)
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Postby zippetydude » Fri Feb 01, 2013 1:08 pm

Since this seems to be very much an ongoing effort, would it be overly difficult for a map of areas explored to be put together so that efforts do not overlap? I especially would find it interesting to see how your lines of searching have varied in comparison to each other and in relation to where the final ping was received.

Which brings up one further question. I may be totally wrong with this, but hear me out. In a case like this, it occurs to me that the route chosen would perhaps be guided by reasoning that a person in a desperate situation might follow, but which might appear unlikely to those of us sitting in safe, non-threatening living rooms.

For example, in my teens I was backpacking and decided to explore a little on my own. I left camp and wandered downhill from High Meadow Springs in the San G wilderness. Being somewhat inexperienced, I didn't bother looking back up my route to the camp until I had gone quite a way downwards. When I looked back up, I was quite lost. This was unsettling.

However, I knew that the trail ran across the ridge above, so I took the most direct route I could back to the ridge. It was not the zig-zag brush-free route I had taken down, it was a straight but very slow, miserable bush-whacking route that took a long time and had my party alarmed when I finally made it back. I learned a lesson, but I also remember simply wanting to get back to familiar territory, regardless of the difficulty.

That may have been the criteria of this hiker as well, which could have lead him into some nasty terrain, but it might still have seemed like the most immediate means of reestablishing his whereabouts. It might be a good idea to take a very close look at some very direct but normally unreasonable routes from where he likely decided the situation was becoming desperate, then may have headed to high ground where he could establish some sense of where he was.

This came to mind when, in previous posts, people have mentioned that routes seemed steep, dangerous, and perhaps unlikely. Just trying to come up with an alternative perspective which could possibly help in the search.

So, any chance of a map with previous search routes being posted?

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