Rescued Hiker Recounts 6-day Ordeal in Desert

HealthNational ParksReal Estate AgentsEd RosenthalTravel

LOS ANGELES (KTLA) -- Prominent Los Angeles real estate broker, Ed Rosenthal, who spent six days lost in Joshua Tree National Park, says he tried to stay calm during his ordeal, but worried he would never make it out alive.

Rosenthal, 64, became lost during what was supposed to be a day hike near the park's Black Rock campground. He had no food or water and lost twenty pounds during the ordeal.

He told reporters Tuesday that he sought shade under a tree during the day and tried to keep warm by walking downhill at night. "I tried to stay calm and focused," he said. "I tried not to get excited because if you do that, you die," he told reporters. "I was exhausted," he said. "My legs were finished because I never walked that far."

"My mouth was so dry it began to feel like sand," Rosenthal said. 'I even tried to drink urine, but forget it," he said, drawing laughter from the crowd.

Rosenthal said he was lonely but made friends with a horsefly to pass the time and keep him sane. "The horsefly was my only companion," he told reporters.

Rosenthal said he set out on the hike on September 24 to celebrate his role in the successful sale of Clifton's Brookdale cafeteria in downtown Los Angeles -- the site of Tuesday's news conference and a popular downtown landmark dating back to the depression.

He was released from the hospital on Monday.

Rosenthal, a poet, told reporters he never goes anywhere without a pen and decided he would pass the time by writing messages on his hat.

The messages included notes on who he wanted as pallbearers at his funeral, instructions for the type of food, music and poetry readings he wanted at his wake, and notes of love for his wife and daughter. He also wrote advice to his business partners and instructions on where to donate money in his memory.

"I don't think he gave up hope until the end, and then he was like, you know, 'Oh my God, are they ever going to find me?'" Rosenthal's wife, Nicole Kaplan told KTLA.

"He literally came out with scratches and he was extremely dehydrated, but he thought it was his last day," his daughter Hillary told KTLA.

"I definitely didn't think he'd come out alive, so I'm very happy," she added.

"He lost a lot of weight, so each day he's getting a little bit better," his wife said.

"He's obviously still stressed out," daughter Hillary added.

Rescue helicopters spotted Rosenthal about 6 to 7 miles south of the original search area, which was a few miles from the campground where he set out for a hike. He waved a Mylar-like cloth to get the attention of rescuers. He said he was so weak he couldn't even sit up when rescuers found him. Before that, he said he used a walking stick to lift himself up and out of the sun a few times each day.

"It was a miracle. I'm much more of a religious man today than I was before," Rosenthal told reporters.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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