Rescued Culver Hiker Recounts Harrowing Tale
October 7, 2010
The Culver City real estate broker who was rescued after six harrowing days without food or water in a Southland desert told reporters Tuesday how he “tried to stay calm and focused” even while writing down the names of the people he wanted to serve as his pallbearers on the brim of his cotton sun cap.
“I tried not to get excited because if you do that, you die,” , the Culver resident and brokerage-owner said.
Tuesday’s press conference at the famed Clifton’s Cafeteria in Downtown Los Angeles was Rosenthal’s first detailed account of how he got lost in a remote area of Joshua Tree National Park last month and how he survived 100-degree-plus heat during the day and sub-freezing temperatures at night.
Rosenthal, 64, was rescued last Thursday after he was spotted from a helicopter flown by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department. He spent the weekend in a hospital and was released Monday morning.
The broker said he ventured to Desert Hot Springs on Sept. 24 for a day-long hike to celebrate his successful marketing effort in the sale of Clifton’s, a renowned L.A. eatery that has operated for nearly a century.
Though a veteran hiker, Rosenthal said he lost the trail that he was following and then made a wrong turn. Compounding problems, he had little food and water because he had only expected to be gone for the day.
“I wandered through a few scary canyons and the drops got worse and worse to go from one canyon to the other,” he said. “Everything got browner and browner.”
Eventually, his water and food ran out.
“My mouth turned to sand,” Rosenthal said. He eventually tried to drink his own urine to rehydrate, but may have been saved by a desert rainstorm that helped quench his thirst.
Nonetheless, Rosenthal wasn’t alone. At Tuesday’s press conference, he said that he “befriended” a horsefly that “was my companion there and that slept on me and hung out all day."
Rosenthal is a well-regarded poet in Westside circles, but he didn’t write any poetry during his six-day ordeal.
Instead, he used the pen he was carrying to scrawl love notes to his wife and daughter on the brim of his weathered cap.
Calmly, he also listed the people who he wanted to be his pallbearers if rescuers didn’t find him while he was still alive.
Rosenthal is now back at his Culver City home on Emerald Way, about 20 pounds lighter than he was when he left.
Not surprisingly, Rosenthal says he’ll keep the hat that he once believed might have contained his final wishes.
The realty broker also said his survival of the ordeal and subsequent rescue “was definitely a miracle.”
“I’m much more religious now than I was,” Rosenthal told reporters. “There is some amazing energy around us.”
Thankful to his rescuers, the broker has also started a drive to raise money for San Bernardino Sheriffs and their Rescue Team. Contributions can be electronically sent to email@example.com.