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Lost Hiker in Joshua Tree National Park. A Hoax?

By   /   October 6, 2010  /   35 Comments

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“I’ve been lost in the wilderness too and things don’t add up.”

Something doesn’t add up here.  I’m sorry…. Mr. Rosenthal is a self-proclaimed “experienced” hiker. He know the area in which he is hiking, and has been there many times with “locals”. And it is his favorite place to hike and reflect — so says his wife.

So how is it an experience hiker in his surroundings overlooks bring a mere water bottle? It was very hot out there and Mr. Rosenthal couldn’t tell directions by the sun, or using a stick sundial? He walked 20 miles not knowing if he was walking North, South, East or West?

Even if he was going up the path for a short hike (like he says), how is it Mr. Rosenthal walked “20 miles under the hot sun, through scary canyons and over nasty tumbleweed hills” without food or water? Hiking in despair for twenty miles absent food or water is willful stupidy! Ed Rosenthat is 63-years-old, he’s hardly up to a Iron Man competition.

My neighbor calls this a hoax that made Mr. Rosenthal an *instant celebrity*. I won’t go that far but I’ve been lost in the wilderness and things don’t add up. I’m no psychiatrist, psychologist, or scientist — although the body language just looked like bad acting and a bit phoney.  This wouldn’t be the first time a missing person turn out to be a hoax. It Happens.

Rosenthal attributed his survival to:  (i) “Writing messages to his family and friends on his hat, using a hiking stick to lift himself up, and strategically arranging six little antiseptic sheets” (it’ll take more than pondering who gets what and playing with antiseptic sheets to keep most of us alive); and (ii) don’t forget the friendly little horsefly… (akin to Tom Hanks valleyball friend in “Cast Away”).

I guess the horsefly is mostly what kept Mr. Rosenthal alive for seven days. Many thanks to horseflys around the world!

Lost Hiker in J.T. National Park

By Terry (last name ukn), October 5 (comment) – Joshua Tree National Park - I am happy Mr. Rosenthal was found.

However, he did not use common sense in Joshua Tree national park. I am also glad the Urine he was going to drink tasted nasty to him because he would have become even more dehydrated. He also did like most people unfamiliar on how to find their way back when lost in our so called wilderness area in southern California.

Climb to a ridge find the closest familiar landmark and hike toward it. He also broke the cardinal rule of hiking in the desert to carry at least 2 gallons of water for a extended hike or at least 2 liters of water for a short 2 mile hike.

The way Joshua Tree national park is set up if you get on top of any ridge or rock monolith formation. You can see a road running through the park.

Also at night time you can see the neon glow of lights from Yucca valley, 29 palms and the town of Joshua tree and a faint glow of Palm Springs/Imperial valley at night time peaking over the mountain ridge that borders the park to south west. Even during the day you can see the surrounding towns.

If he would have climbed up to the top of a ridge he would have see how to get back to where he started instead of wasting energy wandering through the canyons for days.

From what the rangers have told me lots of people get lost in the maze like rock formation for days that don’t have good sense of direction.

Mr. Rosenthal should take some wilderness survival course at REI and also read a few books on Desert survival before venturing out again.

The wilderness is not a dangerous place if you are prepared for the worse in any outing away from camp.

* Terry (Terry’s last name is not available)

- END -

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About the author

Branson Hunter

(This story was posted by Cactus Thorn contributor Branson Hunter)

"The ends do not justify the means." If you use illegal mean to accomplish a legal and even desirable result, the good result does not make the bad means you used justifiable.


  1. Dan OBrien Dan OBrien says:

    I’m calling Bullshit Too!

    Unless Rosenthal has early onset Alzheimer this story is just way out of the realm of being believable.

  2. h2 says:

    Climb to the top of any ridge in the little San Berdos and it all looks pretty much the same. It’s easy to take the unintended canyon out of Black Rock and then walk in circles trying to find the right one out. As it was he made a plan and stuck to it. Reportedly found in Wide Canyon, he had headed directly south following the canyon. Had he been 1 canyon over he may have found water and a better path. Trying to cross the ridges is exhausting.
    He may have had a compass.
    He had a space blanket.
    He didn’t have enough water for 6 days though he had a good start. The rain savd himI have no reason to doubt him. Until he gives me one, I’ll take his word.

    • Paparrazi Paparrazi says:

      I’ve been lost on my dirt bike during a heavy rain storm near Chiraco Summit. I ended up riding in a closed area that I recognized from riding there before it closed. I do think he had a plan. I’ll call it hide and go seek.

  3. Richard Myers Richard says:

    The crew that found him made no comments, other than he was lucky and in bad shape, and yes the rain saved him. 2 weeks ago we would be talking about him in past tense. What ever the reality is, people get lost in the park every year and some die. Real or not the crews that put them selves at risk to find people out in the desert are the hero’s in my view.

  4. Branson Hunter Branson Hunter says:

    A couple of other things don’t add up. During the first night, the alpenglow of Y.V. lights would have shown the gentlemen which direction to go. If during those nights the stars were visible, it doesn’t take any skills to locate the Big Dipper and a couple of constellations.

    • kactuskooler kactuskooler says:

      Very good observation there Branson. Also, just to let you know, in case you don’t, Mr. Rosenthal announced that he is going to write a book about his experience. Talk about instant fame. Guess it doesn’t matter how you get famous, write a book and become a celebrity over night. I think if I want my 15 minutes of fame, I’ll get lost in JTNP. LOL! j/k

      • h2 says:

        Instant fame? We have 3 or 4 lost hikers every year. Do you remember any of them? Gerrard never showed up. Ellen was found in a ski hut after spraining an ankle. I can think of 3 or 4 incidents in the little San Berdos over the last 10 years. I’ve been all over out there. I have friends that could write a book on the area. There’s no money in it. Nobody cares past a short newspaper article and those who think they know survival and want to make a big deal out of some fools desert adventure. City folk. Go figure.

  5. Branson Hunter Branson Hunter says:

    Another thing, how difficult is it to catch a desert lizard early in the morning while they are sunning themselves? What about eating insects? An experienced hiker would have constructed a shelter, and stayed put.lizard

  6. I agree too, Branson.
    Those news interviews are a little too calm and collected, so I am skeptical. I remember the first reports about an “experienced” hiker… lost.
    I don’t see that as possible. One can use dead reckoning out here easilty due to the prominent mountain ranges.

    Where was this guy’s compass?
    Why would he not know his original direction of travel, if he was experienced.
    Seems like he couldn’t find North even before his water ran out.

    I am a little tired of these city fantasizers coming out here and getting “lost” believing they know things that they do not know. Like… how to navigate.

    At night he could have set the 3 fire signal that is universal. Why didn’t he know that? If he did, then why didn’t he do that?

    I could be wrong. he could just be an idiot.

    It just doesn’t play out well.

  7. Paparrazi Paparrazi says:

    I think Branson and Gerrard have made some observations that show they have a deep hatred of people who are lost!
    Just kidding. I’ll call it food for thought and I’ll bite. BTW who shot Kennedy?

  8. Dan OBrien Dan OBrien says:

    I’m saying the guy is either an idiot or he is a bullshitter when he said he was an experienced hiker, either way he should be banned from the desert for life.

    To bad they did not expend a 10th of the resources for the lost biker in Landers. Maybe he might be with us too.

  9. hehehe… not I don’t hate these guys.

    I just wish they would quit living in their little Fantasia heads.
    It can lead to death, which is no laughing matter.

    I’m sort of fence sitting on the idea that Rosenthal was playing a scam for some unknown benefit (the BOOK DEAL MAYBE???) or a complete buffoon.

    hmmm… let’s name his book for him:
    “Advantures in Fantasy Island”

    yer turn:

  10. h2 says:

    I think we need a report on the impact of hikers eating lizards.
    My question would be as an experienced hiker, why didn’t he talk to the coyote and follow the raven home. Pissing in the wind would have told him the exact direction by which he should have figured out where the lizards hang out. Building a dugout would have saved him, especially if he had brought a swamp cooler.

    • Dan OBrien Dan OBrien says:


      “I wish I was in, Tijuana, eating barbecued iguana”

      1 Iguana
      1 lg Onion
      2 Cloves Garlic
      3 Tomatoes
      2 Green Peppers
      4 t Achiote Oil
      1 pn Pepper
      Salt — To Taste

      Make the achiote oil by frying the achiote slowly until the oil is red. Kill the iguana by cutting off its head. Open the belly lengthwise and remove all the entrails. [I didn't write this, folks.] Cook in salted water until the meat is tender (take care not to let it get too soft). Peel and cut in portions. Season with all the above ingredients and cook with about 1 cup water, until almost dry.

  11. John Walters says:

    Dude, even if this is a hoax:
    A.) Homeboy risked his life just to get the book deal. Talk about commitment. Had he not been found he most likely would have died.
    B.) Obviously you are an aspiring writer, so at least this guy took the time to think up an idea to get a deal while you’re still sitting back writing about small town news.
    C.) It’s very cynical to jump to the conclusion that someone would do this, especially when they are already well-off financially.
    D.) If it’s a stunt, then damn, it’s a hell of a stunt and he should be commended for his original thought in action.

    • Branson Hunter Branson Hunter says:

      Author’s comment: I was afraid this may happen. John wrote: “It’s very cynical to jump to the conclusion that someone would do this, especially when they are already well-off financially.”

      Be advised my position on this is that things simply do not add up. As indicated in the story I didn’t declare it a hoax;I did raise doubt.

      • h2 says:

        It wouldn’t be the first time somebody put a bunch of hooey together so they had something to publish. It doesn’t add up and you have raised my doubts. Just not about Mr. Rosenthal.

    • Paparrazi Paparrazi says:

      Another possibility is that he got lost. Had a pity party. Decided to give up. Then succumbed to the, I’m sure they’ll miss now me fantasy?
      KInd of like the little boy on christmas story became after he got the soap in his mouth.

  12. maybe we should conclude that mr.rosenthal is simply a dummy.
    plus we probably should be happy for him that he didn’t die out there.

    I’ll bet he does a little more thinking about things next time.

  13. ya know…
    Publishers seem to like hooey, more than serious works.
    It seems to sell better.
    When you get to a list agents, you will find that they like female oriented soft porn more than anything else. Seconded only by specious self help books.
    I am not joking.

  14. h2 says:

    Then there’s the conspiracies. Those who make something out of nothing, taking advantage of and insulting an individual they have no real knowledge about in order to promote themselves on some obscure blog.

  15. Richard Myers Richard says:

    Actually, I am stunned at the level of expert survival advice available here.

  16. Conspiracies?

    You mean he went out there to meet some alien grays and got snubbed?

    Or was he just looking for the Yucca Man?

    Maybe he was trying to use that gateway back to Israel, and it didn’t work!

  17. Branson Hunter Branson Hunter says:

    This e-mail was opened up a few hours ago. It was received from katherine O’Connor, Josephine County, Oregon.

    From: katherine oconnor
    To: bh2322@netzero.net
    Subject: Re: Comment on “Joshua Tree National Park: Search for missing hiker terminated ”
    Date: Wed, 13 Oct 2010 08:20:58 -0700

    I heard a lot of “bells and whistles” go off when I read the account of Rosenthal’s “survival” in JTNP, but had no way to verify his story, have no first hand knowledge of JTNP and thought it possible the reporters had just gotten carried away. The cynic in me thinks you are correct and that it is more likely than not that this was a bid for celebrity or the perverted result of watching too many “survivor” shows on TV (or both).
    I would like to feature your post on my blog. Please check how I did that and if you would prefer to have me limit my use of your post to your comment, I will pull down the lead-in to your post that is here.
    > You may be interested in this blog:

    “Lost Hiker in Joshua Tree National Park. A Hoax?
    (posted October 6, 2010)


    • h2 says:

      Still trying to ruin this guys reputation with your unsubstantiated bull shit.Why? Are you trying to show off your “expertise’? Eating lizards. LOL Have you even ever been in the area? I don’t just mean the park, I mean Wide Canyon?
      He traveled around 8 miles, not 20. He has no story. He isn’t publicizing himself. On the other hand, you are. Who is the self promoter here? Who is doing the most harm with their stories?

      • Branson Hunter Branson Hunter says:

        Look at it this way, h2: After I put my views out there on the lost hiker, a google search of information was uniform in reported the hiker walked 20 (or about 20 miles) miles. The articles were mostly recirculating AP articles. Most articles on the missing hiker offered the same story (with some opinion and speculations).

        If you have evidence the hiker walked eight miles, put it out here since it changes known facts about this rescue.

        As far as being self-promoting, this is a local blog. I’m just one of the local schmucks with an opinions that post in the alternative community media. My views on the hiker are shared by others in the Morongo Basin, but it’s an opinion that is alone among the googled stories I looked at. Nonetheless, isn’t there room for one unpopular opinion on this newsworthy story of survival. If it threatens free speech to offer a dissenting story on the missing missing hiker — our democratic republic is in trouble. Your opinions too are encouraged, even your attacks are encouraged because — this is Cactus Thorns, the “irreverent barbs” local blog.

        If you read the terms of conditions of Cactus Thorns, there are no provisions that restrict story or comments about local survival stories.

        My puny little story threatens no one. I make no apologies. My opinions are support with reasons why I reached the conclusion that things didn’t add up for me. Actually when this so-called experienced hiker was missing, like many others I set aside some quiet time for the safe return of the hiker.

        I admire your zeal in defending the hiker (everyone needs someone as their advocate). I know I made you angry about my earlier marijuana remark. I was zealously defending my stance that if the well-funded organizations in the Basin could help local food banks with turkeys for struggling families, that is a worthy cause. You disagreed but your advocacy for the rescued hiker mitigates your callous attitude toward empty food banks.

  18. h2 says:

    Go to Google Maps. Find Wide Canyon. Scale it from Black Rock.
    You badmouth simply for the sake of badmouthing. Why?

    • Branson Hunter Branson Hunter says:

      A reader called today and reminded me how easy it is on a sunny day to start a fire with eyeglasses. The experience hiker wears glasses. This is another piece circumstantial doubt.

  19. Dan OBrien Dan OBrien says:

    Gerrard Scott said it early on that if the guy was an experienced hiker he should have built a signal fire, used a reflecting mirror in the daylight…. Hell even Lassie could have found him if he would have done what any 8 year old Cub Scout learns the first pack meeting. He had 7 days to find tender and rub sticks together… in that time something should have sparked.

  20. h2 says:

    One hike and you’re an experienced hiker.
    The press misrepresented the story as you are also trying to do. Sensationalism sells news.Conspiracies also sell. You guys are right on track. Why bother with “alternate” news when all you do is make it up?

    • Branson Hunter Branson Hunter says:

      h2, you need to tell me what part was made up. What are you talking about “one hike”? Don’t delay, what part was made up?

      Your deep canyon works, but there are many other legitimacy questions raised. Many are raised in the comments. How about dealing with these, and other issues concerning the article and why it was put out there? You aren’t offering much feedback. Thus, there is no dialogue. Thus you offer nothing more than the canyons are deep and quick emotional jabs to the kidneys.

      Traveling emotional back roads doesn’t help much in examining what is put out there. Stick to the dialogue trail.

      • h2 says:

        I won’t dispute that you can eat lizards, start fires from friction or follow the stars. What I do dispute is your implication that what the press or anybody else calls an “experienced hiker” should have expertise in these things. I also dispute the reasoning in doing so. You have no legitimate reason to imply this guy is lying while putting in a disclaimer for yourself. Not me, an email from somebody named Terry something…It was you writing it. Shades of Rush Limbaugh. Not only is your story misleading, it is also insulting to the subject. Defend it all you want. Don’t apologize cause you followed the rules and thus all is good.

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