CA - Jonathan Gerrish, Ellen Chung, daughter, 1 & dog, suspicious death hiking area, Aug 2021 #6

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K9Enzo

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IMO only, I get nervous when people pour water on their dog from a water bottle thinking they are cooling him down, when they are probably making it worse, almost a sauna effect.

Cool water, a deep soak to the groin area, feet, behind the neck are good. Hiking near a water source if people insist on hiking in high temps with a dog. Access to cool water for a deep drink. No standing water, fast moving water. My dogs drink my water that I pack (our water). Rest periods in shade. Panting is cooling the dog off.

This story is a tragedy and the threads have been very informative. I’m comfortable talking about dogs and my comments focus on that. Lessons can be learned from tragic events like this. Be careful with your pups out there. IMO
 

RickshawFan

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Well, they were found only a mile and a half from the river so I wouldn't be surprised if the dog had a swim or a drink at the river. Maybe they all went in to cool off.

They would have had another 3 miles to go before they got to the car so I can see why they thought they would make it back.

I don't think they anticipated how long and strenuous the switchbacks were. If the walk back had been less challenging or more shaded they may have made it. They had already completed most of the loop and only had a mile and a half to go.

I can't remember who first said it, but it was if they were "trapped" once they started up the switchbacks. They were out of water and there was no escaping the intense sun. They had no choice but to keep going, hoping to make it back to the car.
I’m not certain the river was even accessible in that area. And even if the dog had a drink in the river, one drink wouldn’t be enough to sustain it for a hike like that. Not even close.
 

LifeIsAMystery

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I've added the onXmaps.com map I found when I searched for "Savage-Lundy Trail." It's the same map I got when I searched for Hites Cove Rd or Hites Cove Trail. On the map you can see an area labeled Alma Investment Company. This is an area mapped and saved by another user for their purposes (hunting?). If Jon's mapping had been set to "public," his trail activity could be saved as well and visible to others. (WOW. You can see the loop even in the thumbnail!)
Thanks
 

MsBetsy

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I’m not certain the river was even accessible in that area. And even if the dog had a drink in the river, one drink wouldn’t be enough to sustain it for a hike like that. Not even close.
I thought I read they were found a mile and a half from the river. In that 7 or 8 mile loop there aren't any places to stop along a creek or a river?
 

ItalyReader

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I thought I read they were found a mile and a half from the river. In that 7 or 8 mile loop there aren't any places to stop along a creek or a river?
Even if the dog cooled off and drank at the river, what about the several miles before and after without river access, in the extreme heat, with a fur coat, unable to sweat like humans, etc.?
 

Lucy Locket

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It’s not possible to fully understand what happened here unless you actually know the people involved. I think you make some very good observations about them based on the information available. What baffles me is the fact that many people cannot understand why they would take Miju and Oski on this hike in this weather (your point number 4) but do not consider either Jon nor Ellen capable of equal aforethought and compassion for the most important person and beloved pet in their lives.
I will never believe they did this and I don’t believe there is sufficient evidence to prove they did. MOO
 

Auntie Cipation

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I enjoy going for walks but I don't consider myself a hiker (even though I've been on plenty of hikes and even some backpacking trips).

What I want to ask about in this post is the mindset of hikers, which I don't seem to have.

When I go for walks, my criteria is that it be relatively safe (including for my dog if I'm walking with a dog) and pleasant in terms of view and weather.

When I have no dog with me, my walks generally start directly at my home and in effect I'm just walking around my neighborhood or out a quiet road and back. When with a dog I would normally drive a few miles to the empty roads outside of town and start the walk from there so the dog doesn't need to be on leash.

My goal, other than giving the dog exercise, is my own exercise. I'm not hiking toward a destination. I may care about the distance I cover, but only in an exercise/accomplishment sense. I am "enjoying the view" but it's roughly the same view I would see from home every day. I have no desire for variety and actually prefer the sense of familiarity and "habit" so I would be inclined to walk the same route each time, or choose between a few familiar routes.

I imagine that all of these criteria, other than perhaps making sure the dog got exercise, are quite different for hikers. I wonder if some of you who clearly enjoy hiking might comment on the goals and motivations that would cause someone to choose this HC/SLT hike even in more comfortable temperatures.

Personally I don't see the route itself as all that appealing -- even though hiking in a forest -- even a burned forest if you're interested in seeing the recovery process -- is beautiful, they were surrounded by beautiful forest -- why choose a steep path (and one where others might theoretically be passing you in a dust-stirring OHV?). I don't see the river at that location as any special destination. I can understand people hiking to the actual cove/mine/townsite itself as a lesson in local history, but it doesn't appear that was their thought as it would have made a considerably longer hike and they in fact turned the other direction once at the river trail.

I know I'm not seeing it through the eyes of hikers -- can anyone correct my thinking more toward how they must have been perceiving the appeals of that hike?
 

MsBetsy

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Even if the dog cooled off and drank at the river, what about the several miles before and after without river access, in the extreme heat, with a fur coat, unable to sweat like humans, etc.?
I didn't realize there was only one spot on the trail that had access to water. Maybe the water sources aren't clearly marked on the map they used.

I don't think they knew what was ahead of them that day and never expected it would take as long as it did.

Also, we don't know if it was the dog that became sick and died first. The humans could have succumbed first and the dog may have stayed with them. Imo
 

ItalyReader

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I didn't realize there was only one spot on the trail that had access to water. Maybe the water sources aren't clearly marked on the map they used.

I don't think they knew what was ahead of them that day and never expected it would take as long as it did.

Also, we don't know if it was the dog that became sick and died first. The humans could have succumbed first and the dog may have stayed with them. Imo
I imagine there are multiple places along the river with access - maybe someone good at maps can clarify how many miles prior to the first river access point on the loop, and how many miles from the last access point on the loop to the truck.
 

Lucy Locket

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That is really interesting @Pumphouse363 Thank you for replying and your feedback.

You know the family and most of us did not know them.

I have had a chance to catch up with later posts.

My OH is an excellent scuba diving instructor and he was in that business when we met. Like many of the others here on WS he is intensely practical and I realised early on that his knowledge would help keep me and my family alive. (And he has done thank goodness!) I am very intellectual so I have different strengths to his. (There is a 14 year age gap between us: he is the older one.)

Do you think J and E had these practical abilities or were they more intellectual? Would E have followed J to the ends of the earth and not questioned his decisions?

I am not into yoga but I am into mindfulness. Last night I was reading about ahimsa: non-harming. "The attitude of ahimsa (non-harming) lies at the heart of yoga practice." Jon Kabat-Zinn.

At the beginning of our marriage I would probably have followed my husband slavishly...I have since learned to question and debate things with him. This way we can learn from one another and find/follow a middle route.

There are certainly a lot of unanswered questions here. The whole thing is totally perplexing. They (J and E) seemed like sensible, kind people and parents. It does seem incredibly strange, odd and downright weird what happened. I still cannot get my head around it.

Yes, recovering perfectionist and all. I personally would not have gone on that hike with my child and dog. I am not super great with heat but maybe in an earlier life I might have been tempted to do it with another adult. Even then that might have been a long shot.

Please do not feel you have to reply to me. We all realise that this must be a difficult time for you.

PS: apologies if I am constantly drawing on my own experiences but that is all I have! I am also interested in crime cases too and know that life can be incredibly deceptive as regards outside appearances. MOO.
 

RedHaus

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I think people are confused to the conflicting statements about the keys as to where they were found.
I agree, @5W's, but I heard the Sheriff's first answer to the question from the audience about the truck keys and then listened to it a few times since at 26:10, IIRC.

'The keys were found with them in the dirt' (paraphrasing) is what I heard the Sheriff say, quite clearly. Why they were out of their pockets / pack is a good question, other than we'd have to presume when they were sitting on that trail, they were likely severely incapacitated mentally and physically.
 

RedHaus

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They had no choice but to keep going, hoping to make it back to the ca
RS&BBM
Well, @MsBetsy, this is where I think we (and hopefully the public at large) can learn from the decisions EC/JG made that day. One of them, as I opined up thread in my 10 lessons learned about crisis management in such a situation, is they did have a choice when they started up the SLT. One obvious choice is to retreat to the river and WAIT there until SAR came for them - perhaps the next day. Better to be hungry than dead. Another choice they could have made much earlier, when they first hit the South Fork Trail, is to hike the other way (7 miles, down hill, along the river) to Route 140 either at the end of Hites Mine Trail or Hite Cove Trail.

That is the key lesson here... your car, 3 miles up a steep sunbaked trail, may not be the best recourse. That all said, I doubt their brains were working well at that point.
 

Lexiintoronto

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I’m sorry, but I absolutely cannot fathom this decision not to carry her own pack. When it comes down to it, you’re responsible for yourself. You’re also responsible for your dependents.

I’m surprised as well.
I’d guess they may have found a backpack of hers at home. I’d be interested to know if it was out or stored away, and what their normal set up and routines were.
 

RedHaus

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OK, I am going to put my "Mariposa is a Crime-Ridden County" hat back on because I keep finding evidence that that is true. And while the SO has closed this case, I will always be left wondering how to explain what appears to be two adults who set out for a very brief stroll that Sunday with their dependents, NOT a 8 mile death march.

So previously I've posted about (and I am sure this is just a very small sampling) - happy to go back and find links to all these stories if need be:
  • Huge drug bust in Mariposa County, 5 days before the G-C's perished... 32,000 illegal marijuana plants, many guns, meth / cocaine, child and animal abuse.
  • Shoot out between grow operators in Mariposa County, July 2021, that resulted in one murder
  • Another big illegal grow bust in 2016 (IIRC) with many arrested illegally from Mexico
  • In 2007 a man with a PhD in physics, taught at a college and owned a dry-cleaning business, was found naked and dead on a Hite Cove trail - his car 25 miles away.
And from poking around comments about this case on the Mariposa SO FB page yesterday, I have found numerous references to crime activity. And I found these:
  • A book written by Stephen M. Sanzeri, Ultimate Prey: The True Story Behind The Yosemite Sightseer Murders. Per Amazon listing*: "What he found includes: drug trafficking, child *advertiser censored*, white supremacy, sexual molestation, rape, and bloody violence in the Central Valley of California and stretching to the Foothills."
  • An ABC 20/20 investigative report from 1991 about crime and corruption in Mariposa County: (2o minutes)
Anyhow, how all this relates to this case is likely a stretch. But as I said, I will continue to wonder WHY this family all perished from heat stroke that day.

* https://www.amazon.com/Ultimate-Prey-Yosemite-Sightseer-Murders/dp/0985914408
 
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RickshawFan

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I enjoy going for walks but I don't consider myself a hiker (even though I've been on plenty of hikes and even some backpacking trips).

What I want to ask about in this post is the mindset of hikers, which I don't seem to have.

When I go for walks, my criteria is that it be relatively safe (including for my dog if I'm walking with a dog) and pleasant in terms of view and weather.

When I have no dog with me, my walks generally start directly at my home and in effect I'm just walking around my neighborhood or out a quiet road and back. When with a dog I would normally drive a few miles to the empty roads outside of town and start the walk from there so the dog doesn't need to be on leash.

My goal, other than giving the dog exercise, is my own exercise. I'm not hiking toward a destination. I may care about the distance I cover, but only in an exercise/accomplishment sense. I am "enjoying the view" but it's roughly the same view I would see from home every day. I have no desire for variety and actually prefer the sense of familiarity and "habit" so I would be inclined to walk the same route each time, or choose between a few familiar routes.

I imagine that all of these criteria, other than perhaps making sure the dog got exercise, are quite different for hikers. I wonder if some of you who clearly enjoy hiking might comment on the goals and motivations that would cause someone to choose this HC/SLT hike even in more comfortable temperatures.

Personally I don't see the route itself as all that appealing -- even though hiking in a forest -- even a burned forest if you're interested in seeing the recovery process -- is beautiful, they were surrounded by beautiful forest -- why choose a steep path (and one where others might theoretically be passing you in a dust-stirring OHV?). I don't see the river at that location as any special destination. I can understand people hiking to the actual cove/mine/townsite itself as a lesson in local history, but it doesn't appear that was their thought as it would have made a considerably longer hike and they in fact turned the other direction once at the river trail.

I know I'm not seeing it through the eyes of hikers -- can anyone correct my thinking more toward how they must have been perceiving the appeals of that hike?

This is a great post IMO; very interesting question.
I was actually thinking about this last night, as I relaxed into that snoozy feeling of having had a very very good walk and having forgotten about the world for a day. My doggie and I both conked out heaped onto the couch.

We had only been on an easy-graded "hike". 5-ish miles. No rocks. Flat, wide, tread underfoot. Brilliant sunshine. Lots of "interest" (e.g. views, water features, fall leaf color).

I don't get this feel from a walk, especially in an urban environment. IMO nature has a restorative quality. There's quite a bit of research in this area, evidently (can't cite it at the moment).

But, I also think, in order to get a lot out of hiking (that you can't get out of going for a walk or the treadmill at the gym), you have to pay attention to the feel of nature: the breeze, the leaves, the colors, the chipmunks, the first sign of a storm. There's a sense that there's a whole big world of nature, and then there's you. This isn't for everyone.

I have a feeling the Gerrish-Chungs missed this aspect of hiking. They seem to have had a goal to achieve and felt compelled to achieve it, come hell or high water. And they hadn't the experience to comprehend that they were just a spec in the natural universe. They experienced nature in the worst possible way I could imagine, instead of choosing something that could delight every member of the family. "Dream it and you can achieve it" works in tech, but not with nature: you don't have a say in nature's behavior.

These days, I can get what I need from short, easy, hikes. I was never into "strenuous" or 10-milers. Even on the AT, I was every mile, "Am I there yet?" All I want is to wear myself out, have a few hours away from a fussy world, and get the warm and fuzzy follow-up feeling from snuggling up with my happy-exhausted puppy. The je ne sais quoi aspect of nature is what makes this happen for me.
 
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RickshawFan

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I didn't realize there was only one spot on the trail that had access to water. Maybe the water sources aren't clearly marked on the map they used.

I don't think they knew what was ahead of them that day and never expected it would take as long as it did.

Also, we don't know if it was the dog that became sick and died first. The humans could have succumbed first and the dog may have stayed with them. Imo
In general, you can't drink water in the backcountry without risk of getting very ill. They didn't bring a filter (or other), so they weren't expecting to add water to their supply along the way. So, even if there had been other water sources, they had no plan to use them.
 

deadfoot13

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I enjoy going for walks but I don't consider myself a hiker (even though I've been on plenty of hikes and even some backpacking trips).

What I want to ask about in this post is the mindset of hikers, which I don't seem to have.

When I go for walks, my criteria is that it be relatively safe (including for my dog if I'm walking with a dog) and pleasant in terms of view and weather.

When I have no dog with me, my walks generally start directly at my home and in effect I'm just walking around my neighborhood or out a quiet road and back. When with a dog I would normally drive a few miles to the empty roads outside of town and start the walk from there so the dog doesn't need to be on leash.

My goal, other than giving the dog exercise, is my own exercise. I'm not hiking toward a destination. I may care about the distance I cover, but only in an exercise/accomplishment sense. I am "enjoying the view" but it's roughly the same view I would see from home every day. I have no desire for variety and actually prefer the sense of familiarity and "habit" so I would be inclined to walk the same route each time, or choose between a few familiar routes.

I imagine that all of these criteria, other than perhaps making sure the dog got exercise, are quite different for hikers. I wonder if some of you who clearly enjoy hiking might comment on the goals and motivations that would cause someone to choose this HC/SLT hike even in more comfortable temperatures.

Personally I don't see the route itself as all that appealing -- even though hiking in a forest -- even a burned forest if you're interested in seeing the recovery process -- is beautiful, they were surrounded by beautiful forest -- why choose a steep path (and one where others might theoretically be passing you in a dust-stirring OHV?). I don't see the river at that location as any special destination. I can understand people hiking to the actual cove/mine/townsite itself as a lesson in local history, but it doesn't appear that was their thought as it would have made a considerably longer hike and they in fact turned the other direction once at the river trail.

I know I'm not seeing it through the eyes of hikers -- can anyone correct my thinking more toward how they must have been perceiving the appeals of that hike?

Speaking only for myself, hiking is where I find peace. It's magical to be out in nature, seeing beauty that only those who make the same effort will get to see. Reaching the peak of a mountain is almost spiritual -- arriving at the top after the hard work it takes to get there is exhilarating, and you stand there, a tiny speck on this enormous planet looking at the landscape spread out below, and you feel humbled. I love it when I have a whole trail to myself, not passing another living soul for miles, and I plan a lot of my hikes for places that have less traffic, I enjoy the solitude. It gives me a sense of achievement and grounding in a world where you can feel stuck at the same time you're in freefall. It feels good to challenge myself and accomplish my goal. The sights, smells, and sounds rejuvenate my soul and make it possible for me to deal with the day-to-day.

People's perception of beauty is always going to be different, just like their taste in food (cilantro, eww), music, cars, clothes, you name it. I think it's important to keep in mind that people do these things because they find them enjoyable and satisfying, even if it's not your thing (people Square Dance for goodness' sake, and they LIKE it!:D) I believe that this family was doing what they loved but just didn't anticipate the conditions they encountered.
 

wary

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I agree, @5W's, but I heard the Sheriff's first answer to the question from the audience about the truck keys and then listened to it a few times since at 26:10, IIRC.

'The keys were found with them in the dirt' (paraphrasing) is what I heard the Sheriff say, quite clearly. Why they were out of their pockets / pack is a good question, other than we'd have to presume when they were sitting on that trail, they were likely severely incapacitated mentally and physically.

Apologies for ugly speculation:

MOO

My guess is that EC collected the keys from her incapacitated husband, but, impaired by the heat herself, didn’t put them in her pocket. (Or, as far as I know, she didn’t have any pocket or pouch to put them. Maybe she was a devotee of traveling light.)

In either case, I would guess that the keys fell out of her hand unnoticed, as she continued her struggle up the trail.

MO opinion and speculation
 

neesaki

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It’s not possible to fully understand what happened here unless you actually know the people involved. I think you make some very good observations about them based on the information available. What baffles me is the fact that many people cannot understand why they would take Miju and Oski on this hike in this weather (your point number 4) but do not consider either Jon nor Ellen capable of equal aforethought and compassion for the most important person and beloved pet in their lives.
I will never believe they did this and I don’t believe there is sufficient evidence to prove they did. MOO
Is your implication that they didn’t choose to do this willing? I was thinking last night, what if EC did have a pack with additional water, a dog bowl, etc. And someone took it from her at some point. Either somewhere on the trail, or in the parking area. If the latter, that would mean they were forced to go . I’m assuming it would have to be at gun point .
 

neesaki

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OK, I am going to put my "Mariposa is a Crime-Ridden County" hat back on because I keep finding evidence that that is true. And while the SO has closed this case, I will always be left wondering how to explain what appears to be two adults who set out for a very brief stroll that Sunday with their dependents, NOT a 8 mile death march.

So previously I've posted about (and I am sure this is just a very small sampling) - happy to go back and find links to all these stories if need be:
  • Huge drug bust in Mariposa County, 5 days before the G-C's perished... 32,000 illegal marijuana plants, many guns, meth / cocaine, child and animal abuse.
  • Shoot out between grow operators in Mariposa County, July 2021, that resulted in one murder
  • Another big illegal grow bust in 2016 (IIRC) with many arrested illegally from Mexico
  • In 2007 a man with a PhD in physics, taught at a college and owned a dry-cleaning business, was found naked and dead on a Hite Cove trail - his car 25 miles away.
And from poking around comments about this case on the Mariposa SO FB page yesterday, I have found numerous references to crime activity. And I found these:
  • A book written by Stephen M. Sanzeri, Ultimate Prey: The True Story Behind The Yosemite Sightseer Murders. Per Amazon listing*: "What he found includes: drug trafficking, child *advertiser censored*, white supremacy, sexual molestation, rape, and bloody violence in the Central Valley of California and stretching to the Foothills."
  • An ABC 20/20 investigative report from 1991 about crime and corruption in Mariposa County: (2o minutes)
Anyhow, how all this relates to this case is likely a stretch. But as I said, I will continue to wonder WHY this family all perished from heat stroke that day.

* https://www.amazon.com/Ultimate-Prey-Yosemite-Sightseer-Murders/dp/0985914408
OK, I am going to put my "Mariposa is a Crime-Ridden County" hat back on because I keep finding evidence that that is true. And while the SO has closed this case, I will always be left wondering how to explain what appears to be two adults who set out for a very brief stroll that Sunday with their dependents, NOT a 8 mile death march.

So previously I've posted about (and I am sure this is just a very small sampling) - happy to go back and find links to all these stories if need be:
  • Huge drug bust in Mariposa County, 5 days before the G-C's perished... 32,000 illegal marijuana plants, many guns, meth / cocaine, child and animal abuse.
  • Shoot out between grow operators in Mariposa County, July 2021, that resulted in one murder
  • Another big illegal grow bust in 2016 (IIRC) with many arrested illegally from Mexico
  • In 2007 a man with a PhD in physics, taught at a college and owned a dry-cleaning business, was found naked and dead on a Hite Cove trail - his car 25 miles away.
And from poking around comments about this case on the Mariposa SO FB page yesterday, I have found numerous references to crime activity. And I found these:
  • A book written by Stephen M. Sanzeri, Ultimate Prey: The True Story Behind The Yosemite Sightseer Murders. Per Amazon listing*: "What he found includes: drug trafficking, child *advertiser censored*, white supremacy, sexual molestation, rape, and bloody violence in the Central Valley of California and stretching to the Foothills."
  • An ABC 20/20 investigative report from 1991 about crime and corruption in Mariposa County: (2o minutes)
Anyhow, how all this relates to this case is likely a stretch. But as I said, I will continue to wonder WHY this family all perished from heat stroke that day.

* https://www.amazon.com/Ultimate-Prey-Yosemite-Sightseer-Murders/dp/0985914408
I saw some of this as well, and it does bring questions to my mind.
 
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