The embrace in which Joseph Orbeso held Rachel Nguyen as the lost hikers sought shade under a summer sun in arid Joshua Tree National Park illustrated Orbeso’s character, his father said Tuesday, Oct. 17.
The San Bernardino County Coroner’s Office is still attempting to identify the two bodies discovered together Sunday by Joshua Tree Search & Rescue members, who were accompanied by Gilbert Orbeso, Joseph’s father. Officials said there is no estimate for how long that could take.
The rescue team, on its Facebook page, described the area as a rugged canyon with boulders on the north side of the Maze Loop trail system.
Joseph Orbeso, 21, of Lakewood, and Nguyen, 20, of Westminster, were last seen July 27 and were reported missing the next day when they did not check out of their rental unit. Their vehicle and fresh footprints were found at the Maze Loop trailhead the next day. High temperatures the last few days of July were over 100 in that area.
Gilbert Orbeso, in interviews, has said he believes the bodies are those of his son and Nguyen.
“I want Joseph to be remembered as a kind, caring and thoughtful person,” Gilbert Orbeso wrote in an email to Southern California News Group. “The way he was found beside Rachel holding her as they were seeking shade under the brush says everything you need to know about him as a man and as a human being. I am proud to be his father and his kindness will live on in me and those who knew him best.
The Maze Loop, North View and Window Rock trails combine to form one 7-mile trail that takes four to five hours to complete, is secluded and is not especially well marked, according to Backpackers.com. The trail has about a 400-foot elevation change and is characterized by low-lying shrub and strange rock formations.
Modernhiker.com warns: “The high walls, twisting canyons and natural rock formations can make the area confusing. You’ll be tempted to do a little scrambling and explore the area — just make sure…