Search under way for hiker missing in Joshua Tree NP 7/14

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

Re: Search under way for hiker missing in Joshua Tree NP 7/1

Postby Perry » Tue Sep 11, 2018 10:38 pm

It's confusing enough that we're talking about 2 sets of remains, neither of which are the missing Canadian hiker. I'm guessing the remains Otherhand referred to are Rodriguez, but maybe there were signs of some kind of injury and maybe they were unable to determine whether it was foul play, self-inflicted, or accidental. That might explain why the results have not been released to the public. With nearly 2 years of time passing, I would think it would be more difficult to evaluate the remains than if it were 2 months.
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Re: Search under way for hiker missing in Joshua Tree NP 7/1

Postby RichardK » Tue Nov 20, 2018 9:21 am

According to the Desert Sun, Miller's sister was in the park a few days ago to see the trail for herself.

https://www.desertsun.com/story/news/lo ... 936059002/

'Desperate for answers:' Sister of missing Canadian Paul Miller in Joshua Tree, retracing his steps

Dawne Robinson is beside herself, trying to figure out what could have happened to her brother who went out for a hike at Joshua Tree National Park in July and has not been seen or heard from since.

“The fact that he has still not been found is baffling,” Robinson said Saturday. “We’re desperate for answers.”

She and her husband, David Robinson, arrived from Canada late Tuesday, and have since repeatedly hiked 49 Palms Oasis trail – the trail Paul Miller was supposed to have been on when he disappeared on July 13 – accompanied by park rangers and volunteer search and rescue team members.

Robinson hoped that by hiking the trail and looking at things through her brother’s eyes, they might find him – or at least come away with clues as to what happened to him.

“We knew he was in a rush that morning” and had a small window of opportunity to hike, Robinson said.

He looked at the map and found a short hike he could do and get back to the hotel within a couple of hours.

“It’s a pretty obvious trail. If you stay on it, you will get to the oasis and back without any problem,” Robinson said.But she added: “It’s quite hilly. If you get off trail, it is hard to see where the trail is – it disappears quickly.”

Still, the town can be seen from the top of the hills. A hiker that got lost could climb a hill and then orient himself or herself to safety, she said.

Miller and his wife, Stephanie,had spent a few days hiking various trails in the park, but July 13 was his first time hiking 49 Palms Oasis, Stephanie Miller told The Desert Sun in an August interview. Beyond finding Miller’s rental car parked at the trailhead on July 13, there have been few clues as to what might have happened to him, except one witness who told authorities he saw Miller on the trail.

“Mr. Miller’s disappearance continues to be a mystery to the park staff,” said Joshua Tree National Park Superintendent David Smith.

Miller, 51, of Guelph, Ontario, and his wife were vacationing in Joshua Tree and were scheduled to leave for Las Vegas and then home the morning he vanished.

It was about 9 a.m. that he – an experienced hiker and outdoorsman – told his wife he wanted to do one more hike before they checked out of their hotel room at 11 a.m.

The 49 Palms Oasis is 1½ miles each way and rated as a moderate hike with a 300-foot elevation gain in both directions. It takes about two to three hours to complete, according to the park’s website.

When he didn’t return to their hotel room by 11 a.m., Stephanie Miller grew concerned but gave him a little while longer. Miller was known for not carrying a cell phone with him, so she had no way to call him. Around noon, she reported him missing to park officials.

Miller’s rented car was found at 12:30 p.m. at the trailhead, and a massive, multi-agency search by air and ground was launched. Drones and search dogs were also used.

Thousands of hours and hundreds of searchers have been involved in the search for Miller, Smith said.

While the effort has been scaled back since he was reported missing, Joshua Tree Search and Rescue volunteers along with park rangers have continually searched.

“So far, Joshua Tree has had over 60 search and rescue cases this year – as a result, we cannot dedicate as much time as we would like to the search, but whenever resources are available, we continue to systematically work our way through the search areas,” Smith said.

The park and sheriff's department will continue to investigate and look for potential leads until Miller is found, he said.

Helicopter photos yield no clues

In September, the park closed the trail for a few days while a helicopter flew over, using a new software system that takes high-resolution photos, homing in on any anomalies.

“The ongoing search has revealed no additional clues regarding Mr. Miller’s disappearance,” Smith said. “We are still analyzing the photos … to see if there is any additional information. So far, the images have not shown any additional information.”

This week, they have accompanied Robinson and her husband – also experienced outdoors people and hikers – as they have hiked the trail.

“They were more than happy to re-search areas they had already searched,” Robinson said.

With such a short amount of time to hike, Robinson didn’t think her brother would have veered far off trail. They have considered he may have climbed rocks for pictures and possibly fell – but have looked between rocks and under and around brush, as well.

Joshua Tree Search and Rescue “has been going through the park with a fine-tooth comb as well,” Robinson said.

“It’s hard to make sense of it all,” she said.

Until there is proof otherwise, Miller’s wife and children remain hopeful that he is alive somewhere, perhaps with a head injury that cost him his memory, Robinson said.

“At this point, I think a lot of people are looking for closure … whatever that is,” Robinson said.

She described her “little brother” as happy, outgoing and having a lot of friends, nearly all of whom call Miller their best friend.

“He was always laughing. He was such a positive person – one of those guys everyone is drawn to,” she said.

“He had a job he loved and had just gotten a raise; Stephanie had just gotten a permanent job teaching; their marriage was rock solid,” Robinson said. The family does not consider suicide a possibility.

“We just wish the possibility of foul play could be considered because there’s nothing else that makes sense to us,” she said.

Smith said there is no evidence of foul play.

For Robinson, visiting the park – and taking in the same surroundings as her brother –has brought some comfort.
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