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Ed Rosenthal Tells How He Survived Six Days Alone In Joshua Tree

By David Markland
Published: Tuesday, October 05, 2010, at 12:33PM
Ed Rosenthal speaks about 6 days in the desert David Markland [Flickr]

Ed Rosenthal speaks to the press on Tuesday morning, recounting his six days alone in Joshua Tree.

"The lesson here is, there is a God," Ed Rosenthal said at the end of a press conference at Clifton's Cafeteria detailing how he survived six days without food or water on the outskirts of the Mojave Desert.

On the last Friday of September, Rosenthal had headed out to Joshua Tree National Park for a day hike. Earlier that week he was in the news for brokering the sale of Clifton’s Cafeteria from the Clinton family, who had owned the classic restaurant for decades, to Andrew Meieren, owner of the hip Downtown club The Edison.

"This was a hike I've done five or six times since the 90s," Rosenthal said of the walk that began at the park’s Black Rock Campground. But after walking for a few miles, he turned and realized he’d completely lost the trail.

Trying to find a way back, Rosenthal said he quickly found himself heading over steeper and steeper drops in the rugged canyons. When the sun began to set on the first night, he slept in what he described a "cute baby canyon." It wasn't until sometime after he woke up on Saturday morning that he became concerned he didn't know how to make it back to civilization.

He said that at no point did he panic. "I did not get excited, I stayed calm and focused," otherwise, he added, he'd end up dead.

A small, mylar emergency blanket sheltered him for a couple freezing nights, but the fragile material eventually disintegrated.

On Sunday, completely out of food and water, he finally settled into a five acre canyon where he said there was some sort of shade to be found throughout the sunlight hours.

That same day, campers who he’d spoken with before heading off on the hike informed Park Rangers that he hadn’t returned.

Rosenthal occupied himself by writing short poems on his hat, and when he began to worry that he may never be found, he turned to making a will. While he wouldn't provide exact details, some of it concerned who his family should trust with future Downtown real estate ventures.

Barely able to walk, he’d plan for hours how he'd take no more than ten steps to move with the shade. Rosenthal held up a walking stick that he used to help get around. Without it, he said he’d have died.

Rosenthal was finally rescued after a San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department helicopter spotted him early on Thursday. At that point he said he was too weak to even lean against a rock, and wasn't sure if he'd have lasted another day.

When asked if his wife would allow him to ever go for a walk alone again, Rosenthal said he didn't think he would even go for a hike in the near future.

Andrew Meieren, who recently purchased Clifton's Cafeteria in the deal brokered by Rosenthal, said the community support for Ed has proven that Downtown has a conscience, adding with a grin, "I'm thrilled that Ed used survival skills that he'd honed in Downtown LA's real estate market."


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