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 Cy Kaicener » Wed Jun 06, 2018 9:56 am

. Please visit my website at www.hiking4health.com for more information especially the Links.
http://cys-hiking-adventures.blogspot.com
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby Perry » Wed Jun 06, 2018 11:05 am

Osmanthus, I don't know which tower was pinged, but in the 3 guesses the final location is either further from a ping or there's a lot of error. There's also a tower to the northeast of 29 Palms. My opinion about the ping radius error is also based on the terrain and likely path of travel and time of day of the pings (hot).

Here are some areas I noticed that seem like good places to search, marked in yellow:
possible_areas.png


The northern marked yellow area doesn't have cell reception but could be a final location if Ewasko pinged from the cell area immediately to the south and continued hiking. Of course, he could also be in an area that has already been searched, and there might not be evidence scattering if he's deep inside some rocks or in a technical climbing area.
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby Myth » Wed Jun 06, 2018 11:45 am

Cy - Oh my goodness. That kind of story always chills me. I'm so glad she was rescued in the end. She did plenty right though, carrying enough water, staying calm ... and she was fortunate that the weather was mild.

Survival stories usually boil down to the same basic important things:

- Tell people where you are going ( !!! )
- Keep your wits about you if something goes pear-shaped
- Give yourself a margin for error with water. You can go much, much longer without food than you can without water.

I carry a PLB, but I also leave a itinerary written in a nice fat sharpie on a blank sheet of paper on the counter before I leave my house. And I have learned to always walk out of the desert with some water still in my pack. I go ultralight otherwise, I can afford a few extra pounds of water.

To tie this into the discussion about Bill: I've always been of the opinion that since Bill was up at elevation, and the highs were not extraordinary at the time, he could have gotten by on less water than people generally think. Also, who have sheltered under a rock overhang in JT in summer? The temperature drop is amazing.
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby RichardK » Thu Jun 07, 2018 7:32 am

I bought a PLB years ago. My wife and I go into some remote places in Death Valley where we are the only ones around for miles. I feel better knowing that a helicopter can be summoned in a couple of hours.

Bill carried the old style flip phone. The phone system knew only the distance to the tower. You have to ping three towers to triangulate an exact position. I assume that Orbeso carried a smart phone. I have never been clear on how authorities determined the location for it. It either pinged three towers or sent GPS coordinates. Either way the location given was badly off from where they were found. Was there ever any explanation for all that?
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby Ed » Thu Jun 07, 2018 9:14 am

RichardK wrote:I bought a PLB years ago. My wife and I go into some remote places in Death Valley where we are the only ones around for miles. I feel better knowing that a helicopter can be summoned in a couple of hours.


Amen. I have a PLB and a SPOT, but prefer to carry the SPOT. I know it is not considered to be as reliable, but I consider the ability to send an 'OK' message to be important, so that if I am running very late but am safe, it does not trigger an unnecessary SAR. I have sent many OK messages, and every one has been received.

I still have a clamshell phone, which I know I should replace with a smartphone with a GPS chip. When I had to call 911 on Skyline last December, I made the mistake of calling on my phone rather than my companion's smart phone. While they said they finally had a fix on our location, it may have been quicker and more accurate with the smart phone.
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby Perry » Sat Jun 09, 2018 1:43 am

Richard, Tom had a possible explanation posted somewhere, possibly in the Nguyen/Orbeso thread or many pages back in this thread. It involved RF engineering. I think it was comparing the signal strengths of all 3 of the 120-degree segments of a tower.

Myth, I agree that he could have traveled far. I've seen people hiking with little or no water when it's 90 degrees. These are not Skyline hikes but 1,000-foot climbs and maybe 4-5 miles round trip. Apparently they made it because I never heard of a rescue after I saw them, but it's possible they developed health problems as a result. Bill may have carried more than 2 water bottles if he filled up a hydration pack or re-usable bottles at his condo.

Since I don't have tracks for the Ewasko helicopter searches, I added that map as a new layer:
https://caltopo.com/m/3LDM
The key is in the lower left of the new rectangle image.

There was some aerial searching in the hills NE of Johnny Lang Canyon and also the north side of Quail. However, the helicopter searches (not including the search for his car) didn't start until June 30, and he was missing June 24. So that was likely too late for him to still be alive and too early for wide scattering of evidence. But if he was out in the open, he would have been seen in those places. I noticed some foot searches that I don't have as GPS tracks. They went down 2 drainages on the north side of Quail. Orange solid lines.
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby Perry » Sat Jun 09, 2018 3:11 pm

There's an area in the hills above the Lost Horse Ranger Station where there hasn't been any foot searches or helicopter searches and the cell reception is strong:
Screenshot_2018-06-09_14-55-32.png

Yes, it's a little beyond the 20% error arc, but all we really know about the accuracy of the ping radius is a vague secondhand statement that it's "90% accurate." Maybe that means that 10% of the time it's way off.
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby Perry » Sat Jun 09, 2018 3:37 pm

After looking at the helicopter searches, I'm interested in searching these areas:
areas.png
areas.png (458.92 KiB) Viewed 741 times


Does anybody want to go tomorrow? High of about 89F at 4,000 feet.
https://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.p ... 2428026266
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby bretpct » Sat Jun 09, 2018 5:17 pm

I believe that area was used in a SAR training exercise, but we obviously don't have any tracks or know how much of it was actually searched. I've always written it off as searched but perhaps it would be worth checking out. Maybe Tom would be able to shed some light on that.

I've often thought if Bill got in trouble he might try to head to that ranger station.
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby OtherHand » Sat Jun 09, 2018 7:09 pm

The area between Johnny Lang Canyon and Lost Horse is a land of boulders and crevice hell. I did it once or twice and never again. Seriously, the canyons are solid boulders and one misstep and it's broken ankle time. Of all the terrain I've encountered in this search, this area was the worse. Yeah, much worse than Smith Water. If Bill went into a ravine in this area, he'll never be found. My recollection is that the closer one gets to Lost Horse station, the worse it gets. So be advised if you do it.
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