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 OtherHand » Tue Sep 15, 2020 1:58 pm

I do not know. Almost all my info comes from the park's records, which I posted online. Those records never went into that level of detail. As far as I know, no one ever contacted Mendoza for details.
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby jdclifford » Wed Sep 16, 2020 3:16 pm

Thanks for the replies guys. I also recall the road being rather sandy early on and then becoming harder, so I agree that they were probably noticed closer to the lot.

The chairman of the planning commission for 29 Palms is a Greg Mendoza. I was hoping to find an email listed online for him to see if he is the Stubbe Springs Greg Mendoza and ask him directly. No such luck.

Closer to the Juniper Flats Trailhead is probably a good bet.
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby adamghost » Sat Sep 26, 2020 11:11 am

Just a head's up, I did film my May walk up Juniper Flats Road for my web series ADAM WALKS AROUND (the series itself was inspired by a suggestion from Ric Capucho from this very board) and it will be released in a couple of weeks. No huge revelations although some things that surprised me personally, since I'd never been in that area myself and relied on everyone else's descriptions of it. It certainly changed my perspective about how likely some scenarios were vs. others. There's a small shout out to the folks on the SJ board in it, and of course Tom. Within the format of the show I tried to craft it to be a precise and accurate primer on Bill's disappearance for people searching on youTube, since one doesn't really exist as of now.

My youTube channel is KarmaFrog1, but I'll also post here when the show goes up, probably around October 7.
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby adamghost » Tue Oct 06, 2020 8:25 pm

Just to follow up, Bill's episode of ADAM WALKS AROUND premieres tomorrow (Wed., Oct. 7) at 2 p.m. PST. Here's the link.

https://youtu.be/awxZGatWBJU

I tried to stick to all-original content but I did make pretty liberal use of Tom's JT37 Verizon map, since it was impossible to tell the story otherwise, and I gave otherhand.org due credit in the video. Tom, thank you for everything, and watch for an SJ board shout out at the end.
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby OtherHand » Wed Oct 07, 2020 8:25 pm

Very nicely done, and entertaining. I do miss that terrain greatly. Compared to where I am now, it seems so....friendly.

A few comments:

I don't recall the dogs following anything up the road to Juniper Flat very far. May be, but I can't remember it.

The dogs never checked the bandanna, as far as I know.

The signs you showed are all new since the last time I was there and are quite nice. Signage at the time of Bill's hike was rudimentary, but the route onward to Covington was pretty obvious.

The road in to Juniper Flat (which I think it the riding and hiking trail) actually turned left and went to Stubbe Spring. I believe it was the access route in the old days. The park added a single track return route and thus made it a loop.

It's not clear if you went as far as the trail's end in the center of Juniper Flat, but at that point it becomes a route to the top of Quail and there are several. It's a reasonably hard climb and I estimate upon reaching Juniper Flat proper you're probably only through about 2/3s of the effort required to get to the top of Quail. And you know how you felt by the time you were at Juniper Flat.

Waaay too many damn people! Time to head cross country and lose 98% of them.

Anyway, very good job!
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby adamghost » Thu Oct 08, 2020 2:31 pm

Thanks Tom! High praise coming from you, and I'm glad you liked it. Also, great to hear from you.

I was going off the original reports on your site; the report basically said the dog followed the trail to that point and "the dog was recalled" or some other such passive (and odd) language. It makes me think not so much that the dogs lost the scent but they just ran out of time and never could pick up the scent again. But that's just speculation on my part. The puzzling part was a close read of the report indicates the footprints went up the road, but the dog followed the footpath. As I said in the video, I kind of have an easier time believing Bill went up the path and just missed the turn back at Juniper Flats than that he went to Juniper Flats and kept going. But who knows.

The dogs hitting on the bandana is from the original report also IIRC, on a separate outing.

That's fascinating about the road turning to Stubbe. I didn't know that. I'm an old road buff (which will become obvious with the next AWA episode).

I went as far as I could follow the road, but I wasn't right in the middle of the flat, either. It might be that it was a false ending (the Park Service loves those) and I was too out of it (and it was too late in the day) to investigate further.

I figured the signs were probably new, but dang, they really don't make much sense. I knew the whole layout from looking at the maps and I was still really confused.

Yeah, my big takeaway from the whole thing is that hike, taken in hot weather, just sucks. I can't fathom why Bill would have kept going.

Thank you for watching!!!
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby jdclifford » Sun Mar 14, 2021 1:32 am

Well, I'm headed back to JT on Wednesday. I have a paying job, a counseling internship, and a full slate of grad classes, so this will be my only opportunity to get over there until November at the earliest. I could make the summer work, but no more searching in the heat for me. It's just too hard focusing on searching when so much of your focus is on having your body contend with the heat. I have commitments at home still so I am actually getting to JT Wednesday, heading back to NM Sunday, then heading back to JT again that Wednesday. Call me crazy, but I am actually looking forward to getting out on the road a bit. These will be the last times doing so for quite some time. I had a certain area to search in mind (completely disregarding the cell phone ping as having much accuracy), but fortunately someone on this forum brought me back to reality. Something they said in an email had me rethinking previous doubts of mine. Now I'm focused on an entirely different area. When I come back from these two short 18-hour round trips, I'll be sure to fill everybody in on as to where I searched and my reasons for doing so.

By the way, I told my manager at work about my involvement in this search and I directed him to Tom's website. He came back from vacation today and told me he actually went to Joshua Tree and was looking for Bill! I thought that was pretty cool.
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby cmitchelli » Sun Mar 14, 2021 4:33 pm

Hi -

I've here via the Hunt for the DV Germans, Otherhand.org, etc.

In May 2018, a new member of this forum posted a theory I also happened to thinking about - a lost phone scenario.

That conversation didn't go far, the poster focused solely on an area (where the phone was hypothetically lost)
that for multiple reasons, didn't hold up - Big Morongo Valley, far outside the park.

I'd like to revisit that scenario where it appears to me quite viable - on or near Park Road in the vicinity of Maze Loop.

Here's the scenario:

Bill's first destination was the North View - Maze trail loop. Trail descriptions suggest an easy to moderate hike, seven miles, about three-hours duration.

Bill lost his phone at the Maze Loop parking area (9.8 miles from Serin) or one of the nearby Park Road pull-offs (at 10.0 and 10.3 miles among others).

Alternatively, Bill lost his phone on the actual trail near 10.6 miles, i.e., on the North View segment.

North View - Maze Loop was on Bill's presumed route, is clearly a more reasonable hike around 9.00AM vs. hiking to Quail Mountain sometime after 10.30AM, and would account for the "missing" time between the phone call to his fiancée and his arrival at the Juniper Flats Parking lot.

The ping date and time - 6.50AM on Sunday, doesn't appear inconsistent - it seems to me... rather right... for when some hiker might discover a phone lost the previous Thursday at any of the areas mentioned above.

The most natural thing to do upon discovering a cell phone lying in the dirt... is to pick it up and turn it on.

If the phone battery died, preventing a call from the would-be owner (i.e. from a companion's phone) the next obvious move would be to put it in a back pack with the intention of turning in at the gate upon exiting the park.

But finding (or losing) an old-style phone is by definition a less significant event compared to an IPhone or Android for obvious reasons- the former involves far less cost, loss of private data, etc.

It's conceivable, even reasonable, perhaps likely, that turning in such a phone found lying in the dirt... wouldn't weigh heavily on a would-be-finders mind, particularly after a three-hour hike.

In any case, a lost phone scenario wouldn't require the finder to have forgotten to turn it in - patk employees wouldn't have had reason to connect a phone found near Maze Loop with a person missing at Juniper Flats/Quail.

If the lost phone scenario is true, it would likely mean another (presumably) lost item
has been a red herring - the red bandana.

I know the bandana has always been an unknown, but it's distracted me Big-Time from thinking much about other areas besides SWC/Quail.

Anyway, I'm curious what people think about this in general, and ping viability - in 2010 - at or near the Maze Loop parking area or on the North View Trail.
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby zippetydude » Mon Mar 15, 2021 7:56 pm

I like how you take into account the setting of the event and the perception of the people involved. Insightful of you. I have followed this and other threads regarding disappearances, and I am forever amazed at what can and actually does take place in this otherwise seemingly predictable world. Your scenario is entirely plausible. If you will recall the Paul Miller disappearance, it seemed utterly impossible for him to have simply run into a problem on that short little trail and disappeared. But that is what happened. In this case, the variables are much broader. You may be right, or he may have simply gotten lost. Occam's Razor is incredibly sharp. Personally, I trim all possibilities using that razor. My thought is that his remains lie within a few feet of where a bazillion searches have taken place.

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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby Perry » Wed Mar 17, 2021 11:15 am

I didn't know people are still looking but apparently they are.

Some tourists would probably try to turn on the phone, then if it didn't work they would toss it.

Could the cell reception change enough in a few days that reception could go from nothing to a strong ping?

It seems very possible that his signal was obscured by rocks and that he was injured and not moving much, then finally able to move away from rocks on Sun morning.
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