According to Joshua Tree National Park spokesman Joe Zarki, "He was conscious when the rescuers found him and was talking with them, but he does have some injuries and some exposure issues."
A San Bernardino County sheriff's helicopter was summoned to evacuate Rosenthal to the High Desert Medical Center, where he was placed in intensive care to recover from severe dehydration.
Rosenthal's wife, Nicole Kaplan, said her husband didn't have any paper with him so he wrote on his hat, expressing his love to her and their daughter, issuing some advice to business partners, and instructions on what kind of funeral he wanted. "He realized he was lost and could not go any further, so he lied low and wrote on his hat," Kaplan explained. His last journal entry simply said, "Still here."
Rosenthal was luckier than 65-year-old William Ewasko who went missing in the same area last June and was never found. Park spokesman Zarki said that the difference between the two cases was that Rosenthal's footprints showed up, but Ewasko left no track to follow. "We had a good trail to follow coming off the loop trail where (Rosenthal) made a wrong turn. The one in June, we never had a clear idea where that gentleman was."
A couple of lessons can be drawn from this episode.
- Never assume just because you have hike an area before without incident that you will always be so fortunate.
- Always assume that something might prevent you from finishing your hike in the expected time frame.
- Even for a day-hike, go prepared to spend a few days and nights.
- If you discover that you are lost, stop and prepare a shelter (in this case to get out of the sun), conserve your energy, and start working on methods of signaling for help.
- Rosenthal did the right thing by laying low and conserving his energy and body fluid. To live six days in the heat of that desert in late Summer is no easy feat, and he deserves credit for keeping himself alive until rescuers could find him.