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David R

Lost Hiker-Los Padres Tar Creek

He sounds pretty experienced and a bit of an odd disappearance with another hiker.

http://www.vcstar.com/news/2014/j...firefighter-last/?partner=popular
Hikin_Jim

Does sound kind of weird that neither dog nor man has been found.  A little sparse on the details at this point though.

HJ
David R

Update with more details on the search:

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/local...ume-missing-firefighter-w55432187
Teejate

David R wrote:
Update with more details on the search:

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/local...ume-missing-firefighter-w55432187


This hasn't made sense to me from day one. Running out of camp without your boots on? Really?

And I read that his buddy said that he'd thought the firefighter went back to the car on his own. Not sure I'm buying that either.

Only thing that's making a little sense to me is an abduction by some pot growers.

Sure hope he's found safe. But I think there's going to be more to this story.
DavidCrashStillman

I agree, at first glance this seems to be a confusing case. However, as with most stories of a similar nature it can probably be reduced to a series of bad choices.

1.) He brought his dog down the Sespe, which is not a dog friendly kind of terrain. The dog is a hunting breed and instinctively programmed to chase things. In this case the dog was a liability.
2.) He went after the dog in the first place.
3.) Compounding things, he went after the dog barefoot and undressed into an area he did not know.

Despite all his supposed experience, it only takes a couple bad decisions...
My only question about this case is, how does one get lost in a drainage?

To address the pot grow suggestion, I spend a lot of time off trail and have stumbled onto these sites at least 20 times. Fortunately for me, they've all been from prior seasons, though I did have a run in with a narco on the Sespe several years back. It was a bit tense. It is a lot easier to find a pot grow operation than it is to find a missing person, especially with both air support and boots on the ground. I don't think that is the case here.

At first blush this may seem a fantastical suggestion, but what I am beginning to think happened is that he got injured somehow and was later dragged into the brush by a cat.
-DS
Gene

I like the mountain lion attack.  Two days hike seems a little remote for a pot farm, but you never.  They have been searching with helicopters and IR equipped drones.  I seriously doubt there is a live person to be found in that area.

Running off with no shoes is the puzzling part.  If it wasn't a mountain lion he either fell into a crack they haven't explored or they need to start questioning his buddy.

Another update:  http://ktla.com/2014/06/20/search-for-missing-firefighter-still-no-mike-frustration-mounts/
Gene

According to the link below they searchers found human footprints in the area.  They also found a marijuana grow nearby.

http://www.dailynews.com/general-...issing-arcadia-firefighter-search
tpfishnfool

Is that area near sespe and lions camp ? Search party in action ?
Gene

tpfishnfool wrote:
Is that area near sespe and lions camp ? Search party in action ?


In the link below I can see Sespe Creek nearby.

[url]https://www.google.com/maps/place/34%C2%B028%2749.1%22N+118%C2%B055%2701.9%22W/@34.3741494,-118.8773531,10z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0x0
[/url]
Uncle Rico

tpfishnfool wrote:
Is that area near sespe and lions camp ? Search party in action ?


I understood that the search area is along the Sespe, but considerably further east. They apparently hiked out of Dough Flat north of Fillmore into the Condor Sanctuary.

http://caltopo.com/map.html#ll=34.52241,-118.89285&z=14&b=t
VermillionPearlGirl

I've always wanted to hike this area. This gives me some pause. Weird story. No idea what could have happened.
Hikin_Jim

If you ever get the chance to go from Dough Flat into the Condor Refuge, pass on it.  I once spent three days there in 1984 -- on a one day hike.   David Stillman excepted.  Smile

HJ
cougarmagic

Hikin_Jim wrote:
If you ever get the chance to go from Dough Flat into the Condor Refuge, pass on it.  


It ain't a walk in the park with your granny, that's for sure.  But still...search dogs should have been able to sniff something out.

It's a weird story to me too - I've been in there a few times.  Though it is rugged, with lots of big boulders and pools, it's tough to get 'lost'.  Follow the Sespe downstream and you get to Fillmore, probably meeting other hikers along the way.  

I'd like to head out there myself if I can talk a friend or two into going with me.
Uncle Rico

Quote:
I once spent three days there in 1984 -- on a one day hike.


TR?
Mike P

If things don't turn out well, sometimes the condors can lead you to the victim...

This has happened on a few occasions in the Grand Canyon. See Michael P. Ghiglieri's book, Over the Edge: Death in the Grand Canyon.

(NOT trying to be insensitive...)
Gene

Mike P wrote:
If things don't turn out well, sometimes the condors can lead you to the victim...

This has happened on a few occasions in the Grand Canyon. See Michael P. Ghiglieri's book, Over the Edge: Death in the Grand Canyon.

(NOT trying to be insensitive...)


Not unreasonable.  It might be a good thing that they have not mentioned them at the search site.

A dead beaver washed up in a creek mouth about 100 feet from the house.  I spotted it after noticing thirty or forty varied vultures in the trees above.  The water had just gone down but they knew it was there.
Hikin_Jim

Uncle Rico wrote:
Quote:
I once spent three days there in 1984 -- on a one day hike.


TR?
Maybe I should.

HJ
DavidCrashStillman

I've been considering doing Sulphur Peak tomorrow (there is no trail) and glassing for vultures over what I keep hearing/reading is the search area. -DS
Hikin_Jim

Might be worth a shot.  Ya never know.

Somewhat tangential comment:
When my dad went missing in 2004, I spent a lot of time watching the SAR op.  What struck me was that the full time sheriff's deputies who were the SAR coordinators, knew far less than the individuals on the teams that were out in the field.  In other words, the person(s) assigning routes and coordinating the various teams were full time sheriff's deputies that may or may not have much in the way of talent or experience in terms of SAR ops.  That was in San Bernardino County.  It may be different elsewhere.

Now, I'm not trying to criticize since I'm by no means a SAR expert; I merely report what I observed.  

When I spoke to some friends who were SAR team members, they felt that some of my conjectures as to my dad's location made sense.  I got nowhere with the full time deputies.  When my dad was found, he was found in an area entirely consistent with my conjectures.

Again, not to criticize.  My dad was dead the minute he hit the ground, and every member of the SAR op meant business and gave it their all, whether full time deputy or volunteer.  All were courteous and professional to me and my family.

All this to say that there may be reasons that someone might not be found even if you have very skilled searchers in the field.

HJ
tekewin

This story smelled fishy to me from the start, like the two young hikers who supposedly got lost on the Holy Jim trail who later turned out to be eating psilocybin mushrooms.

I loved my dog before he died, but I would not have run into the forest without my shoes to find him.  How far or fast could he have gone without shoes anyway? Why would he not spend 45 seconds putting on boots before chasing his dog?

Whatever happened, it doesn't look like this story has a happy ending.
Hikin_Jim

tekewin wrote:
 How far or fast could he have gone without shoes anyway?
Yeah, I was kind of wondering that myself.  

Love triangle?  Affair?  Something ain't right here.

HJ
Gene

Hikin_Jim wrote:
tekewin wrote:
 How far or fast could he have gone without shoes anyway?
Yeah, I was kind of wondering that myself.  

Love triangle?  Affair?  Something ain't right here.

HJ


The news reports said they do not suspect foul play, however the story defies logic unless he fell into a nearby hole,mineshaft, ravine or crevice.  Strange things do happen, but more often people kill one another for the dumbest of reasons.

Perhaps he never entered the park and is buried in another place.  Wasn't the dog found closer to the trail head than the camp?
VermillionPearlGirl

Story on finding the dog: http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/20...fighters-dog-found-near-fillmore/

It does say close to the trailhead, which is a two day hike right?
Gene

VermillionPearlGirl wrote:
Story on finding the dog: http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/20...fighters-dog-found-near-fillmore/

It does say close to the trailhead, which is a two day hike right?



Two days in and two days out?

"Herdman, 36, vanished June 13 during a four-day hike with a fellow firefighter. "

Source:  http://www.latimes.com/local/lano...h-scaled-back-20140623-story.html

They also said:

"An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that the dog was found at the campsite. It was found near the trail head."
Uncle Rico

The 2 day in thing doesn't make sense to me, although it's hard to tell from reports what their route was. It sounds to me like they entered at Dough Flat and his buddy exited at the Tar Creek trailhead. Which means they established camp where, Alder Creek? Hardly 2 days from Dough Flat. It's like 6 miles. And if they were going to camp at Alder, why did his buddy exit down the Sespe? You'd think he'd trek back to Dough Flat.

That having been said, I'm not buying the speculation that his buddy should somehow be implicated. In order to believe that, you'd have to accept his buddy either intentionally becoming dehydrated and disoriented in the hopes of being found by someone while walking down the Sespe in order to support an alibi, or pretending to become dehydrated and disoriented. Seems unlikely.

I don't believe there are any old mineshafts in the areas, so I'm going with Stillman's theory. Hope I'm wrong and they still find the guy alive, him being a fellow explorerer and all.  Crying or Very sad
Gene

Just to confound things the news media often gets details incorrect.  Even being there might not give the entire picture.

I would be interested to know if they used any tracking dogs.  They have foot prints and objects with the victim's scent so they should have a good scent trail to follow.  Even if, heaven forbid, Stillman's theory is correct, there should be a trail to follow.

Again, relying on news reports, the victim was the experienced one of the pair.  This was a first backpacking trip for the buddy so getting lost might not tell us anything definitive.  If he is involved, why would he make up an (unlikely) story about the guy running off with no shoes?  Dumb criminal or a need to explain the presence of shoes at camp?

Going back to the victim, the barefoot part is very troubling.  Unless he was used to going shoeless I wouldn't think he would have gone very far from their camp.  Even with a big moon night I cannot imagine jumping up and running into the brush shoeless and without a light.  Dogs and dog owners are different, but calling the dog would be better than chasing which is just going to make the dog run.

Short search video: http://youtu.be/1cDnHHQcWKs
DavidCrashStillman

Good morning,
Aside from the massive multi-agency response (which the rest of us should never expect because we're not sacred cows, um, I meant firefighters), they used search dogs, scent dogs, helicopters and drones with FLIR, they even used a special animal rescue team from LA County. A ridiculous amount of resources went into this search. And that rescuer's snake bitten hand? Multiply 53 vials of antivenin times about $9,000/unit.

My understanding is that this was a two day single overnight. It's around 8 miles from Dough Flat to the Sespe. The search area primarily focused on terrain below Sulphur Peak which indicates that they had left Dough, either descending to the Sespe from Alder Creek Camp or they did the up-and-over from there to Coltrell (+1 mile) and then turned down the Sespe.

I suspect they arrived somewhere downstream of where Alder Creek meets the Sespe in the late afternoon. There is an unsanctioned "Sandbar Camp on the Sespe about 0.6 miles below the junction of those creeks. This would put them directly under the west side of Sulphur Peak as indicated by some news reports.

I suppose that to the general zombie public this guy's outdoor resume implied a measure of experience. His behaviors say otherwise, and there are plenty of people out there who've claimed or been held up as examples of the experienced and rugged outdoorsman. Ironically, you never hear about those people until they go missing or turn up dead. As I stated previously, one need not look for a mysterious love triangle, murder, aliens, leprechauns or banditos for an explanations. Most of the time the simplest answer is the most elegant. In this case, the known truth is that this guy made a series of incredibly stupid and naive blunders.

I have since received second-hand information that my supposition that he got injured and was later dragged into the brush by a cat is the prevailing feeling among the search coordinators.
-DS
Gene

DavidCrashStillman wrote:
Good morning,
Aside from the massive multi-agency response (which the rest of us should never expect because we're not sacred cows, um, I meant firefighters), they used search dogs, scent dogs, helicopters and drones with FLIR, they even used a special animal rescue team from LA County. A ridiculous amount of resources went into this search. And that rescuer's snake bitten hand? Multiply 53 vials of antivenin times about $9,000/unit.

My understanding is that this was a two day single overnight. It's around 8 miles from Dough Flat to the Sespe. The search area primarily focused on terrain below Sulphur Peak which indicates that they had left Dough, either descending to the Sespe from Alder Creek Camp or they did the up-and-over from there to Coltrell (+1 mile) and then turned down the Sespe.

I suspect they arrived somewhere downstream of where Alder Creek meets the Sespe in the late afternoon. There is an unsanctioned "Sandbar Camp on the Sespe about 0.6 miles below the junction of those creeks. This would put them directly under the west side of Sulphur Peak as indicated by some news reports.

I suppose that to the general zombie public this guy's outdoor resume implied a measure of experience. His behaviors say otherwise, and there are plenty of people out there who've claimed or been held up as examples of the experienced and rugged outdoorsman. Ironically, you never hear about those people until they go missing or turn up dead. As I stated previously, one need not look for a mysterious love triangle, murder, aliens, leprechauns or banditos for an explanations. Most of the time the simplest answer is the most elegant. In this case, the known truth is that this guy made a series of incredibly stupid and naive blunders.

I have since received second-hand information that my supposition that he got injured and was later dragged into the brush by a cat is the prevailing feeling among the search coordinators.
-DS


David, Thank you for your cogent summary.  Putting his outdoor skills in perspective and sharing some important details, not available in the news, do indeed point to the simple answer.


You are also correct about the response for, 'One of their own.'   It may be that too many cooks in the kitchen have hampered the search.
Hikin_Jim

DavidCrashStillman wrote:
one need not look for a mysterious love triangle, murder, aliens, leprechauns or banditos for an explanation.
Leprechauns!  Dang it, it was the leprechauns.

OK, good point.  We're trying too hard here.

DavidCrashStillman wrote:
I have since received second-hand information that my supposition that he got injured and was later dragged into the brush by a cat is the prevailing feeling among the search coordinators.
 Yeah, and that is a rational explanation (although love triangle is way more interesting).  Wink

And I agree that "experienced"  is a loaded term.  If you do the same wrong thing for 10 years, well, are you an "experienced" outdoorsperson?  And if all you do are fair weather, simple hikes, how experienced are you?  I do a lot of hiking with my daughter.  We go to the county park which has a (more or less) wild area.  We'll hike for an hour, sometimes (gasp!) even an hour and a half.  Does that make me "experienced?"

I learn a lot by hiking with new people (particularly those with more experience than I have), taking fairly serious hikes that require some research and planning, reading the thoughts of others on forums and blogs, and taking the occasional class (First Aid, Wilderness Travel, Leadership Training, etc.).

HJ
Augie

Good point David made about the missing person's profession having a lot to with the resources expended--a fact of life. Not to make light of a serious situation, but the only person I know of who goes barefoot outdoors is that guy on that "reality" show Dual Survival.

I'd be interested to know more about the snakebite incident and the use of 53 vials of anti-venom.
tracker

This reminds me of the LASD deputy that went for a day hike in Devil's Punchbowl a few years ago, and was never heard from again. Just saying....
The facts being released don't add up, which could mean a lot of different things. My screen name begs me to join the armchair quarterbacks: A barefoot man should not be that hard to find.
VermillionPearlGirl

I've hiked barefoot and I've seen many other barefoot hikers in the Angeles. I don't think it makes you especially incapacitated or suddenly unable to hike properly. If anything, you are often more cautious.

I do agree though, if something happened to him while he was chasing the dog, it probably would have happened pretty close to the campsite, because how far or how long are you going to go (shoes or not)?

Also, all dogs are different and getting into dog psychology is dangerous territory, but if he had found the dog, it's odd the dog would not have stayed with him, but seemingly would have headed back toward the car. So again, how far would he have gone without finding the dog? Wouldn't you go back to camp assuming the dog is most likely to return there?

And we don't have all the details, but why did his friend become separated from him? If he's running with no shoes on, and not an experienced barefoot runner, how fast is he going?

It's all very confusing.

(It reminded me a little bit -- Los Padres, lost dogs and bad decisions -- of this trip report: http://modernhiker.com/2007/01/17/backpacking-matilija-creek/)
HikeUp

VermillionPearlGirl wrote:
(It reminded me a little bit -- Los Padres, lost dogs and bad decisions -- of this trip report: http://modernhiker.com/2007/01/17/backpacking-matilija-creek/)

Frankly, I'll never understand how Modern Hiker got famous doing a hiking blog that documents the numerous times he gets lost and makes navigation and other types of errors. Points to the fact that "experience" doesn't mean squat if that is the kind of experience you are referring to.
Hikin_Jim

It's his extensive knowledge of high end gear that must endear him to his readers.


HJ
HikeUp

Smile
cougarmagic

DavidCrashStillman - do you remember that Mike Herdman asked you about this route on your blog? (in the comments section)

http://davidstillman.blogspot.com...e-peak-condors-and-whole-lot.html

Any more correspondence with him that would give anyone some clues as to experience, route intent, etc?
DavidCrashStillman

CougarMagic,
Nope, had no idea that he'd contacted me at some point in the past. The nature of his question indicated a distinct lack of experience and a general knowledge deficit regarding the outdoors. His question was:

"Hey David...ive spent the last hour reading about your adventures...I ran into the sespe two years ago and have done the doughflat tar creek partial loop twice.
Your descripts of finding peaks intrigues me...when youve got some time please fill me in on gear and type of expertise needed to give it a go.
I typically hike on trails...in the sierras, now sespe, and san Rafael wilderness. ..the bush wacking sounds fun just not sure on my picking a course, and keeping myself on track.
My name is mike herdman please feel free to FB message me with your suggestions
Thanks...keep up the cool blogs"


My reply was:

"Mike, that's a helluva lot to get into and I'm not offering guide services. Why don't you mail me your three most immediate concerns and I'll see what I can do to help you out. -DS"

I do recall that my first reaction to reading his question was a snort, and I believe I muttered "tenderfoot" under my breath. He did put me on the spot though. I felt that if I started a conversation with him about the nuances of feeling comfortable outdoors, opening that door would just lead to million more questions. I thought long and hard about the kindest way to reply to his query without seeming like an elitist snob. He never contacted me again, at least that I know of. -DS
cougarmagic

DavidCrashStillman wrote:
I felt that if I started a conversation with him about the nuances of feeling comfortable outdoors, opening that door would just lead to million more questions.


I get it, I've been in that situation.
tracker

Now that his body has been found it all makes even less sense. Question
cougarmagic

Quote:
"Herdman was found 1,200 feet above and 3/4 of a mile away from Sespe Creek, where he was last seen, Sheriff Geoff Dean said. Searchers had ruled out looking in that area because it seemed unlikely that anyone would “scale a 1,200-foot mountain” in the dark, Dean said.

“It’s very very rugged terrain,” he said. “We didn’t go that far up.”

The body was spotted during a helicopter flyover Friday morning and was transported out and identified via dental records by a county medical examiner, Dean said.

“Nobody but Mike is ever going to know … why he would take off in the dark into this terrain,” Dean said.
"


(KTLA report, via the press conference this aftrnoon)
VermillionPearlGirl

1200 ft gain in 3/4 of a mile? Um... that's steep.

And they just found him on top of a mountain? I wonder what he died of? On top of a mountain doesn't sound like a fall...
Gene

RIP Mike Herdman

Quote:
The discovery of Herdman’s body in a “rugged cliff area” was announced at a Ventura County Sheriff’s Office news conference about 4 p.m. Friday at Camarillo Airport.

They was no indication of foul play and it was not known if Herdman had fallen, Sheriff Geoff Dean said.

Herdman was found partially covered by brush below a cliff in a location 1,200 feet above and three-quarters of a mile away from the spot on Sespe Creek where he was last seen, Dean said.

“It was obviously a long hike up very, very difficult terrain,” Dean said.

Searchers had ruled out looking in that area on foot because it seemed unlikely Herdman would have ventured that far up in elevation, Dean said.

“What are the chances that someone at night in bare feet and shorts would scale a 1,200-foot mountain?” Dean said. “The likelihood just wasn’t that high, so the search was focused in areas that there was a higher likelihood that he might be located.”
Sheriff Geoff Dean points to photos of the location where Mike Herdman's body was found June 27, 2014. (Credit: KTLA)

Sheriff Geoff Dean points to photos of the location where Mike Herdman’s body was found June 27, 2014. (Credit: KTLA)

The body was spotted during a helicopter flyover Friday morning and was transported out after a challenging retrieval effort and identified via dental records by a county medical examiner, Dean said. The area had been searched aerially before.

“Nobody but Mike is ever going to know … why he would take off in the dark into this terrain,” Dean said.

Herdman’s family was notified after the body was identified, Dean said.

The cause of his death was undetermined; the medical examiner planned to do an autopsy, said Dean, who would not comment specifically on the condition of Herdman’s body.

The search for Herdman began June 16 and involved multiple agencies, with up to 75 people searching every day during the peak effort, authorities said. Helicopters and drones were also used in the search.
Searchers were trying to find firefighter Mike Herdman deep within the Los Padres National Forest on June 17, 2014. (Credit: KTLA)

Searchers were trying to find firefighter Mike Herdman deep within the Los Padres National Forest on June 17, 2014. (Credit: KTLA)

At least four searchers were injured, including an assistant fire chief sent to intensive care with a rattlesnake bite.

Rescuers found only Herdman’s footprints and backpack.

On Sunday, Duke was found hungry and dehydrated at Dough Flat, where the hike began, some 10 to 12 miles from camp.

“That critical time, that time where we believe he is still alive, has gone by,” sheriff’s Capt. Don Aguilar said Monday, according to the Pasadena Star-News. “It’s tough to survive out there past a week. We’ve given a good push on this and covered a lot of area and haven’t come up with much at all.”

The search was scaled back in recent days, but a group from Herdman’s Arcadia firefighters’ union searched on foot in the mountains above Fillmore, the union stated on its Facebook page.
Family photos show Mike Herdman with his wife and their daughter. He went missing June 13, 2014, during a camping trip in a remote area of the Sespe Wilderness.

Family photos show Mike Herdman with his wife and their daughter. He went missing June 13, 2014, during a camping trip in a remote area of the Sespe Wilderness.

Four people were on the ground Thursday, Aguilar told the Pasadena Star-News, saying efforts would continue Friday.

A seven-year veteran of the Arcadia Fire Department, Herdman is survived by a wife and young daughter. He lived in Dana Point, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

He was on a four-day backpacking trip with Byars when he disappeared. Friends said he was very physically fit and has extensive backcountry experience.


Would the fact that he was covered with brush indicate a possible cougar attack?

http://ktla.com/2014/06/27/mike-h...ng-arcadia-los-padres-body-found/
cougarmagic

Re: RIP Mike Herdman

Gene wrote:

Would the fact that he was covered with brush indicate a possible cougar attack?

http://ktla.com/2014/06/27/mike-h...ng-arcadia-los-padres-body-found/


No, the fact that he was high up on a mountain covered in brush would explain that he was covered with brush.  No way an animal is going to drag something that high.

I think they may have been hiking off trail and the barefoot dog-chase story is just a story.
Gene

Re: RIP Mike Herdman

cougarmagic wrote:
Gene wrote:

Would the fact that he was covered with brush indicate a possible cougar attack?

http://ktla.com/2014/06/27/mike-h...ng-arcadia-los-padres-body-found/


No, the fact that he was high up on a mountain covered in brush would explain that he was covered with brush.  No way an animal is going to drag something that high.

I think they may have been hiking off trail and the barefoot dog-chase story is just a story.


Exactly why I asked the question. Smile  Could an animal have discovered the body after a fall and hid it for later?  If not, then who/what covered the body?
cougarmagic

Even in a stretch of imagination where an animal found the body and hid in brush - still would have to explain why he was way up there.

In one example, a mtn lion captured in OC about a year ago was taken in by the Exotic Feline Breeding Compound in Rosamond.  They said he ("Serrano") was not willing to eat anything but raw venison or rabbit at first, and that they used that behavior to figure out when cats were captive vs wild.   Wild cats, like domestic cats, are very finicky.  They aren't scavengers, they are predators.  Bears?  I don't know.  But again, nothing goes to the effort of dragging something up that far.

Regardless, I have hiked steep routes off trail in the San Gabriels and Los Padres and assert that no one does 1200' up, barefoot, much less in the dark.  Those of you who have climbed Iron can sympathize.  Something else happened.
Gene

Thank you very much.  I hate to think of foul play, but there have been many things about this story that did not add up.  It doesn't eliminate the possibility of an accident, but there are a lot of difficult details that point in another direction.

cougarmagic wrote:
Even in a stretch of imagination where an animal found the body and hid in brush - still would have to explain why he was way up there.

In one example, a mtn lion captured in OC about a year ago was taken in by the Exotic Feline Breeding Compound in Rosamond.  They said he ("Serrano") was not willing to eat anything but raw venison or rabbit at first, and that they used that behavior to figure out when cats were captive vs wild.   Wild cats, like domestic cats, are very finicky.  They aren't scavengers, they are predators.  Bears?  I don't know.  But again, nothing goes to the effort of dragging something up that far.

Regardless, I have hiked steep routes off trail in the San Gabriels and Los Padres and assert that no one does 1200' up, barefoot, much less in the dark.  Those of you who have climbed Iron can sympathize.  Something else happened.
David R

Some observations from the comments:

1. I think you need to be careful into reading too much into the verbiage used to describe the situation. Doing that allows you to go on to tangents that are assumptions not fact. When they say "covered in brush" it doesn't mean that someone purposely concealed the body instead it simply means from my reading that the body was in the brush.

2. It seems like experienced hikers need to find a reason why the hiker screwed up or are not as an experienced hiker as their reputation. There is an obsessive need to find a reason for why it went wrong with THEM as opposed to the way WE hike. Granted running off barefoot isn't a very smart move but I think we all are one accident and one mistake away from being in a similar situation to this poor guy. The difference between reading a story on this website as a gnarly trip and it becoming a serious matter is a pretty fine line. I think we all know those idiot moments where we laugh and shake it off like it wasn't a big deal but really it was. Face it that's part of the thrill of hiking for most of us.

3. Finally I find it interesting how certain things simply can't be according to certain posters. Actually they can, I have no problem accepting that a hiker delusional with lack of water and exposure climbed up the side of a bluff for no apparent reason and expired in this effort.  When you're in that state you don't behave rationally and things that for us seem unexplainable are clearly possible.
Mike P

David R wrote:
Some observations from the comments:

1. I think you need to be careful into reading too much into the verbiage used to describe the situation. Doing that allows you to go on to tangents that are assumptions not fact. When they say "covered in brush" it doesn't mean that someone purposely concealed the body instead it simply means from my reading that the body was in the brush.

I agree...

David R wrote:
2. It seems like experienced hikers need to find a reason why the hiker screwed up or are not as an experienced hiker as their reputation. There is an obsessive need to find a reason for why it went wrong with THEM as opposed to the way WE hike. Granted running off barefoot isn't a very smart move but I think we all are one accident and one mistake away from being in a similar situation to this poor guy. The difference between reading a story on this website as a gnarly trip and it becoming a serious matter is a pretty fine line. I think we all know those idiot moments where we laugh and shake it off like it wasn't a big deal but really it was. Face it that's part of the thrill of hiking for most of us.

Fair enough...

David R wrote:
3. Finally I find it interesting how certain things simply can't be according to certain posters. Actually they can, I have no problem accepting that a hiker delusional with lack of water and exposure climbed up the side of a bluff for no apparent reason and expired in this effort.  When you're in that state you don't behave rationally and things that for us seem unexplainable are clearly possible.

I look at it as a matter of plausibility. What you suggest is certainly "clearly possible" but it seems highly implausible.
Gene

That why it's called 'supposition' or supposing that this or that happened.  At this point the only thing any of us knows is what we have read or been told by the authorities close to the situation.  We also know there is just one soul that knows exactly what happened.

I agree, people typically put things in their frame of reference, including their personal experience.  Experience or not, we all have different comfort levels for any particular situation.

I am not a highly experienced hiker, a handful of backpacking trips into the San Gabriels, many of day hikes and about 9 years of living and working in the San Gabriel mountains.  During those 9 years as a dam operator I made countless trips over San Gabriel Dam alone.  Usually in pitch darkness and pouring down rain.  Up and down a dirt road, walking on a muddy switchback trail, getting into a boat, paddling out to take a water level measurement.

Between those trips we tended boom logs, boats and boat houses as the lake levels would rise and fall.  I climbed all over the outlet works making flow adjustments and outflow readings.

I wasn't barefoot, but the rain suit and rubber boots I was wearing were not conducive to swimming.  It was dangerous as heck, but we knew the danger and that help, if it came, would likely be the next day.  We had crappy low bid carbon zinc batteries in equally crummy flashlights.  

We worked according to our situation and surroundings, call it experience or common sense, I don't think it's unique to experienced hikers any more than it would be to a fireman.  When a tragedy like this happens it is a good time to review our own practices and see if there is something we can do better.
tekewin

I work with a local police force and every detective I spoke with off the record thinks there was foul play, likely with someone's wife/girlfriend involved.

The bare feet is the thing I can't get over. Every step in rough off trail travel, on sticks, rocks, thorny bushes, your feet would scream at you. And every step you decide to go further up, in the dark? I would expect his feet to be bloody and very scratched up. I am not accusing anyone, I'm just having trouble constructing a scenario in my mind that fits the evidence. The coroner will have the final say.
AW

I could see Herdman scrambling something he couldnt reverse.
Or he was afraid of reversing.
We saw that with Cendoya&Jack, the orange county pair.
An inclination to think that the side of the mountain will top out soon or its easier to be seen or see something yourself.

I dont think his partner went vey far to look for him.
Im not blaming him,because 3/4 of a mile is a long way.
Without whistles too.

Not sure about the next day....but whatever.
David Stillman

I know somebody who spoke with one of the Ventury County Sheriffs Deputies who was involved in the the recovery. This is second hand, but the source is solid, he said that the Deputy told him that they do not suspect foul play, and that Herdman was high as a kite. Autopsy is being performed today by the Ventura County Medical Examiner. -DS
Gene

David Stillman wrote:
I know somebody who spoke with one of the Ventury County Sheriffs Deputies who was involved in the the recovery. This is second hand, but the source is solid, he said that the Deputy told him that they do not suspect foul play, and that Herdman was high as a kite. Autopsy is being performed today by the Ventura County Medical Examiner. -DS


Oh my, well that would explain a lot.  The final location, the, 'no foul play suspected' and lack/strange information.  I'm guessing the survivor told them more than we heard.  A voice in the back of my head said, "Mushrooms or something that made him go wild?" but I discounted that because of his work.
Teejate

David Stillman wrote:
I know somebody who spoke with one of the Ventury County Sheriffs Deputies who was involved in the the recovery. This is second hand, but the source is solid, he said that the Deputy told him that they do not suspect foul play, and that Herdman was high as a kite. Autopsy is being performed today by the Ventura County Medical Examiner. -DS


That's interesting. But I gotta' say, even if he was blasted out of his mind it still doesn't explain it for me. The lack of boots, no headlamp, and that steep of a climb in that terrain? And not one vocal communication with your partner? Just get up and disappear?

If someone was high enough to forget to put on his boots, (which wouldn't happen) he'd be too high to make that climb. And he was wearing board shorts? Really?

They went out with the 'no foul play' really early on and reiterated it in the presser. Something tells me they might come back to it and explore some other theories. When I read that the buddy said he thought Herdman might have decided to walk back to the car my red flag went up.

Maybe the autopsy will reveal something that will answer some questions.
Uncle Rico

David Stillman wrote:
I know somebody who spoke with one of the Ventury County Sheriffs Deputies who was involved in the the recovery. This is second hand, but the source is solid, he said that the Deputy told him that they do not suspect foul play, and that Herdman was high as a kite. -DS


The autopsy will tell, but I find it interesting that there has been virtually no suggestion or even hint in the media reports that I have seen that drug use may have been a factor. Meanwhile, conjecture on the interwebs has suggested foul play by the friend or the involvement of illegal Mexicans growing weed, but not drugs. Meanwhile, the very vocal contingent that is always wailing and gnashing their teeth about charging the lost soul (or his or her estate as the case may be) for the cost of the search and rescue operation has also been unusually quiet. In most other circumstances, the missing hiker(s) wouldn't get that kind of pass (or the benefit of the doubt) from the masses. Why do you suppose that is so? Is it because the guy was a fireman and therefore automatically considered above reproach? Curious.
DavidCrashStillman

Hey Rico,
I alluded to the disparity between what you or I could expect (in terms of SAR response/resources) versus what this guy got, simply by dint of him being a firefighter. You raise a valid point. Media coverage of this event has been geared toward not making this guy look like an idiot. For those that can read tea leafs, Herdman did that well enough on his own. The insular nature of the EMS field has probably been working hard on keeping the press from expressing criticism of his choices.

On a different note, I'm getting kind of tired of the black helicopter crowd, those looking to turn this into something more sensational than it is. I've certainly been guilty of getting well off the deck in search of a kind view while looped on shrooms. I'm not saying with any certainty that this is the case here, especially in light of the runaway dog angle, but I can see that happening. A word of old-timer advice for you youngsters out there, never ditch your fry buddy. -DS
HikeUp

The dog ran off with their shrooms.
Sewellymon

never ditch your fry buddy

DavidCrashStillman wrote:
Hey Rico,
A word of old-timer advice for you youngsters out there, never ditch your fry buddy. -DS


Good advice, David.

I was thinking a hearty dose of meth, topped off with dehydration and sun exposure be one explanation.
DavidCrashStillman

Absolutely could have been the case. Have had two guys die of meth OD at my hospital just this week. One, a 28 year old and died of a massive heart attack, and the other, 32 years old, died of cerebral edema (brain swelling). That's some bad shit. When you've seen what it does to people first hand you quickly learn to despise the stuff and the people who use it. Honestly, junkies are easier to deal with than tweekers. -DS
yobtaf

Fear and loathing in Los Padres

The Bats
Uncle Rico

Autopsy results.

http://www.sgvtribune.com/general...in-a-cliif-side-fall-coroner-says
Augie

High drama in the wilderness. I'm sure the guy's employer, the Arcadia Fire Dept., is anxiously awaiting the coroner's toxicology report.
tekewin

Thanks for the link, Rico.

Seems like some facts are still missing from the public account, but we may never know.
mchiker

Some info on possible location of Herdman's body

Hi everyone. New to the forum. Was referred to the site by a member's post from another forum. By background I grew up in the Simi Valley/Moorpark area and have been hiking in the Sespe several times, but really only as far as Tar Creek. Grew up on a ranch in rural Moorpark (1970's) next to miles of open space, foothills and fruit orchards. Was once a paramedic as well albeit over 20 years ago.

I have a (probably extreme) curiosity in some matters when the situation catches my interest.

Since this story made the headlines, I used info from the various commentary, stories and google maps I found what I am pretty sure is the location where they found his body.

First I am not 100% on this, but I believe these are the general coordinates of their campsite near Stone Corral Creek given the image of a search map I saw (just copy and paste in google maps): (34.555977, -118.943540).

Given that location I believe this to be the location where they found Mike's body given the direction of travel, distance and topography shown in the pictures and the description of the cliff (34.540700, -118.950135).

If I am correct, he didn't necessarily climb "up" the cliff as it would have been possible to reach it over land instead of from the creek bottom, but even WITH boots and in clear daylight that trek would have probably taken at least 1 hr? Without shoes in the dark? Even if you were chasing your dog, no one in their right mind would go that far under those conditions. At least I wouldn't.

I am simply providing my opinion and information (hopefully accurate) here to discuss the story and perhaps provide more clarity to exactly what might have happened.


Photos for reference:

Top Photo
http://www.sgvtribune.com/general...in-a-cliff-side-fall-coroner-says

Second photo down
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/n...errain-campsite-article-1.1847257

Update: Yep, definitely found it if the photos show by the press were accurate. I managed to nest in a position on Google maps/earth that gave the perfect angle of the topo/features of that cliff in the background. Attached a screen shot (excuse my daughters smiley face!)


[/img]
Teejate

Re: Some info on possible location of Herdman's body

[quote="mchiker:49168"]Hi everyone. New to the forum. Was referred to the site by a member's post from another forum.

Good stuff mchiker.
Thanks and welcome.
(And I'm in your camp in terms of the plausibility).
mchiker

Teejate wrote:
David Stillman wrote:
I know somebody who spoke with one of the Ventury County Sheriffs Deputies who was involved in the the recovery. This is second hand, but the source is solid, he said that the Deputy told him that they do not suspect foul play, and that Herdman was high as a kite. Autopsy is being performed today by the Ventura County Medical Examiner. -DS


That's interesting. But I gotta' say, even if he was blasted out of his mind it still doesn't explain it for me. The lack of boots, no headlamp, and that steep of a climb in that terrain? And not one vocal communication with your partner? Just get up and disappear?

If someone was high enough to forget to put on his boots, (which wouldn't happen) he'd be too high to make that climb. And he was wearing board shorts? Really?

They went out with the 'no foul play' really early on and reiterated it in the presser. Something tells me they might come back to it and explore some other theories. When I read that the buddy said he thought Herdman might have decided to walk back to the car my red flag went up.

Maybe the autopsy will reveal something that will answer some questions.
I don't want to say I speak from experience (but I am...from a looonngg time ago Wink ) but at least from my perspective, when one is UTI of a hallucinogen like LSD or shrooms you can tend to feel god-like, larger than life, maybe even impervious to pain....almost animal like sometimes too. Not to digress too much, but I believe some of the Viking clans used to take hallucinogens before going into battle. Point is, you tends to feel 10 ft. tall and bulletproof. I have heard that meth has a similar effect at times. Anyway, drug use would go a long way to explaining why Herdman might have done something a little crazy like go off on a night hike in bare feet if we aren't considering foul play.
mchiker

Re: Some info on possible location of Herdman's body

@teejate thanks. Great to be here.
VermillionPearlGirl

There are lots of reasons why you'd go to the top of a mountain and fall down it, but chasing after a dog doesn't seem to be one of them. It truly seems unreasonable that he would have gone that far after a dog that is quite likely to come back on its own. This really is a strange and suspicious case.

I hike in the dark often, and have hiked in bare feet several times, so I have a broader definition of what can be done in those conditions than most of the people in this thread -- but I agree he doesn't seem to have a reasonable motivation to do such a thing. So while I do believe he definitely could have gotten to the top of the mountain in those circumstances, I just really don't understand why he'd want to.
mchiker

VermillionPearlGirl wrote:
There are lots of reasons why you'd go to the top of a mountain and fall down it, but chasing after a dog doesn't seem to be one of them. It truly seems unreasonable that he would have gone that far after a dog that is quite likely to come back on its own. This really is a strange and suspicious case.

I hike in the dark often, and have hiked in bare feet several times, so I have a broader definition of what can be done in those conditions than most of the people in this thread -- but I agree he doesn't seem to have a reasonable motivation to do such a thing. So while I do believe he definitely could have gotten to the top of the mountain in those circumstances, I just really don't understand why he'd want to.
I definitely wasn't singling out the barefoot night hiker crowd Wink , definitely nothing wrong with that if that is what you are into. I have done both as well, even did some barefoot trail running, although now I would probably be considered a tenderfoot. My feet are not conditioned to go barefoot hiking anymore sadly.

Keeping it in context, in his situation? Just a foolhardy thing to do. Trying to put myself in his "shoes", I might have gone after our dog Charlie (if I brought him with me on an overnight trip, which is doubtful), but in doing so, my attitude would have been "stupid dog" if he ran off and I would have begrudgingly put on my boots, grabbed a flashlight, water and hiking staff and then try to persuade my friend into going with.....if I was sober or even slightly inebriated. Otherwise all bets are off since I don't do much more than the occasional beer or adult beverage now.

Has anyone ever been camping or hiking in that particular area of the Sespe around Stone Corral Creek? Would be interesting to know how accessible that west bank is.
mchiker

I don't have much time today (Happy 4th everyone!) but i want to fire up this discussion later. I keep kicking this tragedy around in my head. Just thinking about what is logical and makes sense, I keep coming back to "this was not an accident", especially given some other information I came across over the last several hours. I have a friend in Fillmore who I might see today who might know more, but my overwhelming sense is this situation is dirty. Something bad happened to Herdman and another person had to be involved.
tracker

If a logical person was to look for a common thread in the responses, they would see a strong consensus:
The facts as being reported do not add up. Period.
Speculating as to which factoids being reported are true, vs. which is complete BS- is meaningless.
G-I-G-O. (Garbage In, Garbage out)
The guy is dead. His  body was found up the Sespe, under circumstances that seem to beg more detail. That much I'll believe. Will the public get the true details to draw an accurate account of events that caused this unfortunate death? I doubt it.
mchiker

tracker wrote:
If a logical person was to look for a common thread in the responses, they would see a strong consensus:
The facts as being reported do not add up. Period.
Speculating as to which factoids being reported are true, vs. which is complete BS- is meaningless.
G-I-G-O. (Garbage In, Garbage out)
The guy is dead. His  body was found up the Sespe, under circumstances that seem to beg more detail. That much I'll believe. Will the public get the true details to draw an accurate account of events that caused this unfortunate death? I doubt it.
In the end you are right. Just because of the nature of this case real information in hard to come by. My friend from Fillmore told me that the case is still being treated as suspicious,  but is being handled carefully,  but even if the coworker is a POI it sounds like there is probably no hard evidence to go on. But we don't know what's truly going on behind the scenes. There was a rumor about the discovery of an illegal grow field that turned up during the search for Herdman but the search area was 58 sq miles. Even if the rumor was true we can't be sure if it was discovered in close proximity to where the fire fighters were camping. So in the end we may never know how it actually went down but it's fun to try and sort things out. I mean they tried to conceal the location of where the body was recovered but I figured it out by reading between the lines. If they give us enough facts no telling what we can find out.
lu

Mike Herdman

No, the reported facts don't add up, do they?

As to the pot grow, I don't think it was just a rumor;  it was reported by a number of sources (http://www.vcstar.com/news/local-news/fillmore/sheriffs-office-is-holding-news-conference-on-missing-hiker_53813872).  Nor do I think it had anything to do with what happened.
HikeUp

Why is that two people have chosen this forum to join to discuss this incident?  Twisted Evil
lu

HikeUp wrote:
Why is that two people have chosen this forum to join to discuss this incident?  Twisted Evil





Sorry to upset you.  Can't see a way to delete my posts, or I would.  Since the thread was about this incident, I thought it was okay.  I won't post any more.
mchiker

HikeUp wrote:
Why is that two people have chosen this forum to join to discuss this incident?  Twisted Evil
Suspicious of the suspicious. And the demon emoticon is just a LITTLE over the top! Kind of takes paranoia to the next level lol. Not that I need to explain, but I guess I will. What actually happened was another one of your members was posting on a different thread, l LA times I think and he/she said there was a quality thread about this matter in this forum. Lots of details and enlightened minds. I do also happen to enjoy hiking and camping so it was a nice find.
cougarmagic

HikeUp is teasing.  He's a kidder, that one.
HikeUp

Yeah, sorry...my bad.
mchiker

Ehhhh no worries. I can see how you might think lu and I were "plants" or just plain weirdos. Can't help my curiosity. The case just fascinates me. I live at the base of the Santa Susana Mountains. From our house to the summit of the first Hills is about 1000 ft. Very rugged terrain but not near as bad as the Sespe and I would never imagine climbing to the top barefoot,  especially at night.

My interest is deinitely fading though. Too busy at work and with life.
mchiker

Rethinking this whole thing now. Maybe I was wrong....our home is nestled right up against the Santa Susana Mountains, probably about half way up the first set of hills. Tonight the moon was somewhere a little better than 3/4 full. The hills behind my home are pretty similar in terrain, rate of rise and distance to peak to that area where they found Herdman. Was walking my dog, no ambient light other than the moon, but there was good visibility.  Just on a whim I decided to break from my usual route along a perimeter road and scramble up a long boulder platform, probably tilted 30-40 deg angle and 100+ yards long.....barefoot. It wasn't bad actually. I did have a flashlight and shoes (which I took off), but once I got a feel for the terrain didn't need the flashlight. I could see most everything. I got to the edge of the boulder(probably a 30-40 foot drop) and looked up the mountain to the peak. I could totally see how someone who was out in the wild, just "feeling it" might try some stupid @#$%, especially if you fancied yourself as one of these extreme athletes. So the whole "unbelievable" aspect of this mystery sort of became more possible to me. Frankly, I still can't fathom how someone would try to scale that cliff. I think the overland route looked easier (at least on google maps), but regardless of how it happened, to me Taylor Byar's story becomes more plausible. Maybe Herdman was just too good of an athlete and he got himself into a situation that he couldn't get out of and paid the price. Whatever happened RIP and God Bless his family. Truly a tragedy.
Gene

tracker wrote:
If a logical person was to look for a common thread in the responses, they would see a strong consensus:
The facts as being reported do not add up. Period.
Speculating as to which factoids being reported are true, vs. which is complete BS- is meaningless.
G-I-G-O. (Garbage In, Garbage out)
The guy is dead. His  body was found up the Sespe, under circumstances that seem to beg more detail. That much I'll believe. Will the public get the true details to draw an accurate account of events that caused this unfortunate death? I doubt it.


Then why read this thread?  Is it a desire to control those around you?  Do you not believe in brainstorming or corroboration?  Many discoveries are made by examining known facts and filling in the unknowns with probable details?  This is also the basis for circumstantial evidence cases in court.
bsmith

tox report back

the toxicology report is back.

http://www.vcstar.com/news/local-...hen-he-died-report-shows_35037387
Uncle Rico

Quote:
the toxicology report is back.


I'm shocked I tell ya. Shocked.
DavidCrashStillman

Tox Report: Ecstacy, Alcohol, Caffeine and amphetamine. Sounds fun...until you die.


http://www.latimes.com/local/lano...g-firefighter-20140801-story.html
tracker

It makes a lot more sense now.
tekewin

Drugs and the forest don't mix.  A really bad trip.
Gene

Re: tox report back

bsmith wrote:
the toxicology report is back.


Well dam, that is so sad.
DavidCrashStillman

Why is it sad (unless that was sarcasm)? The guy was a husband and a father and what he chose to do was stupid and irresponsible and not representative of the ideals of his profession. He was an idiot, and now he's a dead idiot. These little "tragedies" make the world go 'round.

I suppose it's sad that his child lost her father, but in the context of the larger universe, people die of stupid all the time. One day his child will learn the truth about why her father died. Will she feel sad, or just angry? -DS
Gene

DavidCrashStillman wrote:
Why is it sad (unless that was sarcasm)? The guy was a husband and a father and what he chose to do was stupid and irresponsible and not representative of the ideals of his profession. He was an idiot, and now he's a dead idiot. These little "tragedies" make the world go 'round.

I suppose it's sad that his child lost her father, but in the context of the larger universe, people die of stupid all the time. One day his child will learn the truth about why her father died. Will she feel sad, or just angry? -DS


No sarcasm, (usual for me) and albeit harsh, I agree with your points.

Potentially sad that he chose to piss his life away, especially since he was a husband and a parent.  Once you are a parent it about the kids not yourself, don't agree, don't have kids.

Potentially sad if he didn't have life insurance.

OTOH, there is the potential for the Mother to meet and marry a better man and for his daughter to have a better/less flawed father.
VermillionPearlGirl

When did backpacking into the forest not become enough stimulation on its own?

Also, when I was in college, I feel like we learned that if you were going to do drugs like (or drink a lot) that you should be in a controlled environment. With people looking out for you, in case anything happened. Not the complete opposite of that...
outwhere

tekewin wrote:
Drugs and the forest don't mix.  A really bad trip.


Can't argue with that one - especially when it comes to alcohol.   Luckily when we were younger and dumber,  our 'parties' escaped relatively unharmed.

As much as I dread rattlesnakes - what inspired us to chase one around our Chilao Flats campground until it wrapped itself around a yucca a seemingly disappeared - yes, it was too many, waaaay too many Heinekens...

And albeit (maybe) less nutty than too many beers, I remember eating some homemade 'cookies' on our way to the top of Baldy.  The girl that made them was no light weight, so all a sudden, they hit me like a heavy weight!  Of course I was on a section of a trail that made me feel like I was on the side of the world, so I dropped on all fours and prayed for the 'fun' to go away just long enough so I could regain my composure.  It took awhile and hikers passing by us just looked at us with eyes of pity and disgust.

You're post is spot on VermillionPearlGirl - wish I had read it a long time ago
Wink
mchiker

Sounds like Herdman was the one ran off into the wild and his dog chased after him! What a strange ending to a weird story.
tracker

mchiker wrote:
Sounds like Herdman was the one ran off into the wild and his dog chased after him! What a strange ending to a weird story.

I bet the dog was the brains of this group. I wonder if his friend will come forward and tell a more complete account of events now.
JerryN

sad

While the circumstances superficially make him out to be an idiot, and he may well be, we don't know what was going on in his personal life that might have led him to make such poor decisions.  So while his demise is explicable, it does not negate the tragedy for all involved.

r.i.p.

Jerry
Sewellymon

Ya no surprise.

I cannot stand in judgement. Only reason I survived those crazy 70's was perhaps I had enough miles under my boots so that by the time I found myself tripping hard way yonder, I had the good sense to not push things.

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