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 Myth » Mon Jun 25, 2018 4:54 pm

Perry - I was basing my guess regarding the age on the fact that the sole looks made of fairly supple and not overly weathered material, and the quality of the visible stitching. In the desert it could just be a well-preserved sample too, of course, so the weathering may not be that indicative.

I've run across those can dumps OtherHand describes too ... certainly a lot of desert gold ( give it time and it becomes someone's treasure ) out there in that area. But yeah, the spot is worth keeping in mind but unless there's a larger debris field it is likely not connected.

bretpct - just looking at the lower portion of that drainage in Google Earth gives me the heebie-jeebies. I would not try to search that on foot. That's a good example of the kind of terrain that Bill might well be resting in though - the kind you can't really reach as a searcher if you value your hide at all.
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby OtherHand » Mon Jun 25, 2018 8:07 pm

bretpct wrote:I noticed a bit of a blank spot in the search tracks in SWC. Specifically this drainage I've marked in green.

It looks like prime real estate and is the only part of the southerly slopes not covered in tracks.

The nearest track to the west is from JT27, aka "The Smith Water Death March", in which the coverage level is described as "low". Judging by the terrain, it may not have been possible to see down into that drainage at all.

Here's the view in Google Earth:

Seems likely to me that if he's in the area of SWC he would be found in a drainage, or at least some debris may of washed or blown down into one.


I'm not sure why it's not showing as uncsearched, as it's listed in my personal tracks in Google Earth. It was descended on July 22, 2011 by Pete Carlson as part of the Death March (Great place to be at the end of July!). It may be that since Pete was the only one of us four not carrying a GPS on the trip, I went back after the fact and drew his route in on my records. We all generally traveled together until we reached the head of that drainage, then split up with Pete taking the first descent. The remaining three of us continued further west and spread out for our descents. Those tracks are shown in your exhibits. Pete's route was exactly what you have shown in green. There....I saved you an odious hike. Actually the coverage for the descent portion was pretty good since we were all looking downhill with excellent sightlines. It's usually the uphill portions where you can't see as much.
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby Perry » Tue Jun 26, 2018 12:17 am

For the online map, I marked that drainage with a dashed line and wrote some notes.

Tom, I did not see a marker F in anything that I downloaded from your web site. Did I miss something?
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby OtherHand » Tue Jun 26, 2018 6:28 am

I was referring to the F marker on your June 25 Acme mapper post.
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby Perry » Tue Jun 26, 2018 10:38 am

When I click on it, it shows a marker A. You might have cookies from previous maps. It would be nice if Acme let people choose the letters or create labels.
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby OtherHand » Tue Jun 26, 2018 12:46 pm

Yeah, you're right. When I open the link in a private window I see only a single "A" marker. But it seems to be the same spot you had labeled "F" in an earlier Acme iteration so it appears to be quite near the old homestead sites.
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby bretpct » Tue Jun 26, 2018 2:55 pm

OtherHand wrote:I'm not sure why it's not showing as uncsearched, as it's listed in my personal tracks in Google Earth. It was descended on July 22, 2011 by Pete Carlson as part of the Death March (Great place to be at the end of July!). It may be that since Pete was the only one of us four not carrying a GPS on the trip, I went back after the fact and drew his route in on my records. We all generally traveled together until we reached the head of that drainage, then split up with Pete taking the first descent. The remaining three of us continued further west and spread out for our descents. Those tracks are shown in your exhibits. Pete's route was exactly what you have shown in green. There....I saved you an odious hike. Actually the coverage for the descent portion was pretty good since we were all looking downhill with excellent sightlines. It's usually the uphill portions where you can't see as much.



Well that's quite a relief. I've been using Perry's excellent map since it's much more complete than my attempt at aggregating all the known tracks.
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby OtherHand » Tue Jun 26, 2018 8:46 pm

As a few of you know, I've been been more than a little preoccupied with a permanent relocation to the wilds of New Mexico, which now seems to be settling down. This has been going on, more or less, for the past 6 months, hence I've been extremely derelict in keeping up with my website housekeeping duties. I have several substantial website projects which have been on hold for the duration, including an excellent Bayesian analysis done by a contact of mine for potential Ewasko search areas. Now that I've opened my mouth about it, I'll be forced to write it up and get it online. That's my first priority in updating my web site.

That said, I've noticed there have been others collecting and posting Ewasko search tracks, which is great. Had I not been distracted with my move, I would have been doing just that. So as a "quicky", I'll throw out a couple of track collections for anyone interested to download. I'll just post links here, and MAYBE add them to my website at some later date. No promises as I have a crapload of catching up to do.

The first is a collection of tracks from the Orbeso/Nguyen search which covered pertinent areas to Ewasko. The records contain a lot of SPOT positions, which were generated by searchers with SPOT beacons and just were positions are regular intervals but no tracks. What I did was create polygons of the areas in Google Earth which contained the SPOT locations thus representing areas searched and cleared. I'm not sure if those polygons will transfer correctly to my kmz extract so we'll see. Also included are helicopter search tracks for what they are worth.

Here is a link to my Orbeso tracks

The second package are some impressive tracks from 2014 on the southerly slopes of Smith Water near its westerly end. For a couple of reasons the source of these tracks will remain anonymous, the main reason being I don't have explicit permission to publish the tracks (there's also another reason which I won't mention). Since I wasn't specifically told NOT to publish and now others may be planning what could be dangerous trips into areas they perceive as previously unsearched, I've stripped identifying info from them and offer them up at the link below.

Anonymous Smith Water search tracks

Slowly getting back up to speed.....
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby adamghost » Fri Jul 20, 2018 12:18 am

I just posted a follow up to my Ewasko blog which summarizes, and gives full credit to, a lot of the feedback and theorizing on this here board.

Check it out, and I hope everybody feels fairly represented:

https://ijustdisappear.com/wp/2018/07/2 ... shua-tree/
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby Osmanthus » Mon Jul 23, 2018 10:07 am

The point of this post is: Sherlock Holmes can't help anyone here.

In truth, it's very difficult to apply Holmes's maxim that 'once you've eliminated the impossible, what remains must be the truth' because it's very difficult to identify what is impossible. One can only try to say what is improbable. And "once you've eliminated the improbable..." has the nasty habit of leaving you with an alternative that's equally improbable. The Sherlock Holmes stories, fictional as they are, also suffer from this problem: Holmes tends to solve by improbables although Doyle would have us believe he does it by impossibles. Incidentally, this is the problem faced by anyone writing a story with a protagonist smarter than they are on the topic of interest.

Very well, maybe the way forward is to reduce the problem by coming to a set of mutually exclusive possibilities. e.g. if Officer Grayson is correct, then it's impossible that the existing theory is correct. This is useful, and seems to be your approach Adam. Unfortunately the U-Haul theory in particular has the flavour of "If Officer Grayson is correct, then you inevitably come to a theory like the UHaul!" and this isn't really right. I would go further: "Correct officer implies foul play" does not necessarily follow, unless you dismiss improbable solutions... but so dismissing such solutions is very unSherlock. If the ranger is correct, must there be foul play? Or is it merely likely that there is foul play? Could Bill have moved his car by himself while a search was underway for him without realizing? Is it impossible? If it isn't, then you must consider it if you want to be Sherlock Holmes. Ok, let's say there was foul play anyway. There's a whoooole set of impossibles you have to identify before you come to a U-Haul or equivalent.

Let's drop Holmes. The fact is, if we accept the ranger's testimony as valid, there is a whole range of things that could have happened. The spectrum is very broad. Sure, you can make a set of assumptions that seems reasonable to come to a possible conclusion, but who's to say one set of assumptions is better than any other? I have a personal idea that I think works very well with a correct ranger, and it doesn't involve foul play. Another guy has a different idea that works perfectly well. Can I really push my idea when I have no reason to explain why most of the alternatives aren't any good?

For what it's worth, I don't think the UHaul idea is worth dismissing out of hand. But I don't see what merit it really has. Is there really no other, equally plausible option, even if you wanted to involve foul play?
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