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Deceased CA - Bill Ewasko missing in Joshua Tree National Park; Jun 2010

Cliffed Out

Diggin' It
Folks have been searching for Bill Ewasko (BE) for years. The search is almost legend, for a variety of reasons, not least because Tom Mahood got persistent about it. He was famous for doggedly, obsessively, endlessly, looking for the "Death Valley Germans". That story is here, a fascinating, but lengthy read.

At any rate, Mahood was also obsessed with finding the remains of BE in Joshua Tree, which kept the "missing" in the news, rumor, social media, for a long time. You can read Mahood's blog here, with details of where he looked and why.

Bottom line: this is a story that never really got forgotten, unlike those of many missing in the National Parks.

So, we come to today, and some remains have been found in JTNP reportedly along with BE's wallet. Not anywhere near where he was supposed to be. The remains have still to be identified.



One Fat Marmot

For Real
From reading Mahood's stuff, BE's car was found at Juniper Flats trailhead. The Panorama Loop was not anywhere searchers like Mahood "imagined him to be". That's an interesting way to project the location of a missing hiker (though maybe not with research into "lost hiker behavior?).

And, for all the times SM posters say it's not possible for remains to be not seen along a busy trail... it's all these years later, and Panorama Loop is a very busy trail....

One Fat Marmot

For Real
New info coming in today. The remains were evidently found off-trail near Panorama Loop and Black Rock. The nearest Park entrance is Yucca Valley.

There evidently was a cell ping off a Yucca Valley tower a few days after BE went missing, but his car was on a whole 'nother road. I would guess, since there are so few cell towers in the area, the radius must cover hundreds of square miles. In this instance, it might actually have been helpful, but I guess it's hard to know if the car was found at a trailhead in a whole 'nother direction.



I haven't been to Joshua Tree, so I'm having a little difficulty figuring out the lay of the land. I found a map of the CRHT (California Riding and Hiking Trail), and it goes pretty much through the area we seem to be at, between where the car parked at Juniper Flats (Keys View Road) and the Panorama Loop (sort of over by the Black Rock Campground, as far as I can tell). Anyway, this should cover the terrain:



A little more info about how the remains were found...It sounds for sure that this has to be BE, just because of the items that were found with the remains.

It seems he was about 10 miles as the crow flies from his car. Even with ups and downs—and he was apparently experienced both at hiking and specifically at Joshua Tree—that might well have been do-able. I wonder if he got onto one of the heights, caught a great view, and then got turned around on the descent?

I suppose he could also have been out there—maybe injured?—and bivouaced for the night(s), and then tried to continue on his way the next day or two...and that's what got him to where he was found. Maybe the autopsy will find an injury.


She Made Me Do It

Charter Member
I just wish we had more information on the find.... Was there evidence he spent the night? What stuff did he have with him? Were there broken bones?

@Kaboom! Maybe he'd organized a ride and was hiking towards (not away from) his car? So many possibilities.

I guess I'm just curious and want to hear all the details, so my mind can put this away....

Naughty Pine

Hangin' Out
So, my idea is that he got turned around and went back to his car northward instead of southeast-ish. Perhaps he was on a height and descended on the wrong side. In desert terrain, it might all look quite similar.

The sun would presumably have to be directly overhead to make that mistake. Otherwise, you'd be oriented as to direction from the position of the sun.

I'm not familiar with JT, so I dunno (I've been there just once, years ago). This is a guess.

Now, I see from Reddit, that someone else had this idea right before the find was announced. See pinktaquoliquor: https://www.reddit.com/r/JoshuaTree/comments/sc02u9

Breaking Trail

BE was so close to being safe… so sad.

He was so familiar with Joshua Tree, conditions, landscape, etc, that @Naughty Pine must be right, and he got turned around. And, yeah, from my experience, the logical place to have that happen would be getting turned around on a summit while looking at the view, and then descending on the wrong side of the mountain. Summits often have a spaghetti of trails where people have scrambled around. I’ve often gotten confused about which trail I came up on when I’m at the top.