IMO I think they intended a short stroll to try out their new baby carrier.
They were not wearing appropriate clothing for a lengthy hike in the sun and heat. No hats, sleeveless tops and shorts aren’t what hikers wear in the sun.
The main thing is that they didn’t bring adequate water for a longer hike, and I water bowl for their pup.
Those things lead me to believe they intended only a short hike.
That only leaves>>>
Coercion/fleeing a threat. As I've stated previously, the problem here is that there's absolutely NO EVIDENCE to support this. I'm convinced LE took a very close look at this possibility as well.
If they were approached by a nefarious element, then they were obviously allowed to flee. They were found alone, so it's not likely they were escorted on a death march. In fact, WHY would someone FOLLOW THEM in such brutal conditions themselves? So, if that was the case and they intended (prepared for) a short hike, why not venture a short distance further to where the threat was no longer present and then wait a bit before TURNING BACK?? That's what I would have done under the circumstances. If they knew they were woefully unprepared for an 8 mile hike into hell, why risk almost certain death (with baby and dog) when they could wait it out and attempt to turn back? It's hard to imagine the perpetrators would hang around in the heat just to make sure the family wouldn't return! Makes no sense. MOO