Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby OtherHand » Mon May 07, 2018 5:47 pm

Seems like everyone's forgotten about the other dead guy out there, Michael Rodriguez who went missing in June of 2016. His car was found along Keys View Road just a little bit past the Juniper Flats trailhead. If he headed sorta SW, it would have put him towards Stubbe Spring. Given the much shorter amount of time he would have been exposed to the elements, his clothing would probably remain. So it's it's either Rodriguez or Ewasko, and from what little I know I'd lean toward Rodriguez.
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby sh44 » Mon May 07, 2018 6:01 pm

Thanks Tom for the info as always. Was not even aware of Michael Rodriguez... Will look into that!
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby Perry » Tue May 08, 2018 12:08 am

In the comments here:
https://www.facebook.com/JoshuaTreeNPS/

Maria Rodriguez wrote:His name was Mike Rodriguez, who was reported missing almost two years ago,I received a call on May 5th

So authorities probably believe it was him based on clothes and other items, but they can't conclusively and publicly say this until the forensic work is complete or at least the dental examination.

I hope the family feels better in some way. It's hard to know exactly what it's like to go through something like this, and it's possible that emotions and thoughts vary with different cases and family members. My guess is that there's some relief knowing that he didn't stage a disappearance, if there was any question of that, even the slightest doubt.

The Hi-Desert Star seems to have the most information.
http://www.hidesertstar.com/news/articl ... 986c1.html
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby OtherHand » Tue May 08, 2018 7:08 am

It's got to almost certainly be Rodriguez. Adam Marsland reminded me that the initial search for Ewasko had really saturated the Stubbe Springs area, including a number of dog teams. So that area had been searched well. Also, if someone is on the westerly side of the ridge separating the Juniper Flat area from Stubbe Springs area their cell phone would have lit up many towers in the Coachella Valley. There's no way a ping to the Serin tower would have even been possible, ignoring the distance of course.
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby Myth » Tue May 08, 2018 7:24 am

Maria Rodriguez commented on her initial comment an hour ago saying that Mike's wallet was found so even though the coroner won't release information yet, it appears that Mike was found.
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby sk43 » Wed May 09, 2018 6:05 pm

First time poster. Wish I had found this forum earlier.

About a month ago, the weather in the Midwest was still crummy (snow in April?) so a trip to JT to say, check out this Bill Ewasko story, seemed very attractive. So my one contribution here is that I went through a thought process that Bill might have gone through. I'm also the age that Bill was when he disappeared. I had also visited JT a couple of times in the past. I am also a "map and compass" kind of person (aside from the fact that I never carry a compass.) I do not own a smartphone - just a Verizon flip-phone. I consider myself an experienced hiker, but at the time I was not in particularly good condition.

After checking flights from Chicago to SoCal, I can verify that flights to Ontario and Palm Springs are sufficiently limited (and sold out) that LAX is the most practical option, particularly if you are going for a short trip and don't want to suffer canceled flights or lost luggage and have waited to the last minute to buy your tickets. I went during the work week, since lodging is a lot cheaper. It's a 3 hour drive to JT. There was a heat wave at the time - 100 F in Palm Springs. From memory, on the day that Bill disappeared, the temp in PS was 109 F.

I climbed Quail Mountain from the Juniper Flats trailhead on April 11 (Wednesday). Apparently I just missed crossing paths with some other folks here who were conducted searches on the weekends before and after. Regardless, here are some observations:

1. After leaving the trailhead, I did not see a single person until returning.
2. I hiked in on the CRHT. Excellent trail. The turnoff to Juniper flats on the old road was pretty obvious - at least to me.
3. In spite of the heat, I only consumed 0.7 liters of water before reaching the summit. Caveat: I started before 7 am.
4. I did not register at the trailhead. I did not sign the summit register. Lack of interest.
5. Like Tom Mahood, I was pleasantly surprised by the breezes once you reach the ridges around the summit. In fact, I would not have wanted it to be any cooler.
6. Viewing the terrain North from the summit, if I were short of water, the last thing I would do would be to head for Smith Water Canyon. It's hot and nasty in that direction. Instead, it would have been back to the trailhead ASAP.
7. Whether on-trail or off-trail, the route back always looks different than the route going in. The old road that leads into Juniper Flats is easily seen from the ascent route (I went up the SE ridge).
8. The only map I carried was a printout of one of the search coverage maps from otherhand.org. More than adequate.
9. After returning from the hike, I still had time and energy to drive to Keys View and then over to hike the road up to Lost Horse Mine.

Based on what we know, it is a total puzzle how Bill ended up anywhere near the 10.6 mile ping circle on Sunday morning. If I were in Bill's shoes, it would have never happened.

Which brings up the next question - how much do we know about Bill Ewasko? He is described as being a "strong hiker", but what does that mean? In the past I would have described myself that way, but these days it is disheartening to have young hikers blast pass me on a trail. However, once you go off-trail, these youngsters disappear. What was Bill's off-trail experience?

I have more thoughts, but would be interested in any feedback first.
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby Perry » Thu May 10, 2018 11:41 am

Sk44, seems like he would have been comfortable with class 2 and 3, given his itinerary. I've also been wondering whether Bill typically did any class 4 or 5 climbing. Maybe somebody here knows. Perhaps in a desperate situation he might have, to get a cell signal. That could explain the lack of evidence scattering that Tom mentioned. Or dropping into something technical to escape the heat.

This weekend will probably be the coolest until this fall:
https://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.p ... 4304608004
Does anybody want to go search for Ewasko or David O'Sullivan (PCT) this weekend? There's an email in my signature. Like sk44, I do not own a GPS except my wife's car GPS which doesn't hold a charge and only saves locations, not tracks.

Looking at street view on Google Maps, it does seem hard to believe that a trained law enforcement officer searching for a white car could drive by the parking lot 4 times during the daytime and not see it. Sorry if this was posted already. I don't remember which page that discussion was on.
https://www.google.com/maps/@33.9767677 ... 312!8i6656
One possible explanation is that if Bill left the keys in the car, some young guys in their teens or early 20's may have taken it for a ride and brought it back.
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby Perry » Fri May 11, 2018 12:27 am

I did some thinking about how the car could move without involving foul play:

1. Bill forgets that he's supposed to call Mary on Thu evening due to early stage of some form of dementia, and over Thu, Fri, and Sat he hikes multiple places in JTNP and sleeps in the car, finally hiking towards Quail Mountain or Smith Water Canyon Sat afternoon. He could have taken more water than what is known about the Safeway bottles.

2. He's suicidal due to some type of medication. He ponders the decision Thu and Fri, finally commits to it on Sat.

3. (kind of ridiculous) Bill hikes somewhere else Thu morning, then parks at Juniper Flats parking lot later in the day to hike towards Quail or Smith Water. He leaves the keys in the car, and some young folks take the car for a ride on Fri, party hard Fri night and pass out, wake up Sat hung over and then return the car, forgetting at first which way to park it, then re-parking it later after recovering from the hangover.

4. (also ridiculous) Bill does 2 hikes on Thu. A car thief takes the car back to some chopshop in the high desert. Then somebody realizes it's a rental car with a GPS tracking device. Not wanting the whole operation to get shut down, they drive the car back to Juniper Flats and leave it, possibly re-parking it.

Maybe somebody has a better explanation. I'm leaning towards the 1st or 2nd explanations. It's possible the park interpreter saw the pass in or through the rear window, but I just can't get over the ranger saying there were no vehicles in Juniper Flats parking lot.
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby zippetydude » Fri May 11, 2018 7:31 am

Rats. Perry, I'm in NorCal visiting my mom for Mother's Day or I would have jumped at the chance to search with you! This thread has long fascinated me and it would be fun to get together and puzzle it out, bouncing ideas off of each other as we search. If we get another cool weekend, let's give it a try. if not, then maybe set a firm date for a fall excursion?

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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby Perry » Fri May 11, 2018 10:30 am

Sounds good. So far everyone who would be interested is either travelling or working.
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