If you are familiar with the memorial that sits in Josephine Saddle in the Santa Rita Mountains, south of Tucson, you at least know that three boys died during a hiking trip in November of 1958.
Thomas Johnson, a Green Valley resident and avid hiker with the Green Valley Hiking Club, interested in the history of the Santa Rita Mountains for many years, has written an accounting of the events surrounding that sad day.
Here is Part Twenty:
The most probable scenario of what happened was developed by Cathy Hufault, sister of Ralph Coltrin, in a book that she authored. Cathy did considerable research and interviewed many of the original participants and uncovered additional clues. This scenario is summarized here. After Lou Burgess turned around, the other three boys (Early, LaNoue and Greenberg) continued up the Baldy Trail. Before they reached Baldy Saddle, David Greenberg became tired and was left to wait by the trail while the other two continued on. While the other two continued on, David became cold and attempted to start a fire while he waited for their return. It was most likely David that tried to start the fire because of the materials and the rudimentary nature of the fire (David was brand new to scouting). Early and LaNoue continued past Baldy Saddle and up the trail toward the top until they decided that they should give up their quest to reach the peak and return to where they had left Greenberg. They placed brush markings across the trail to indicate where they had stopped in case they had a chance to try again the following day. After returning to where they had left Greenberg, the three descended the Baldy Trail toward Josephine Saddle. Upon approaching Josephine Saddle in complete darkness and with only one flashlight, Mike Early made the fatal mistake at the junction of the Temporal Trail and began following it toward Patagonia. After passing McBeth Springs, Mike tripped over the downed telephone line, fell off the trail and rolled down the hillside breaking his leg. LaNoue and Greenberg then went down to where Early had stopped and determined that their only alternative was to wait out the storm. There was a narrow flat spot under a tree where they set up their camp. The two boys built a fire ring with stones and gathered wood using Greenberg’s hatchet. They also constructed a lean-to with pine branches to provide as much protection from the deteriorating weather as possible since all of their camping gear was back in MaderaCanyon. It was probably Greenberg who climbed back up to the Temporal Trail to leave a marker and left the matchbook hanging on the telephone wire. They then settled in to await rescue. The boys had put up a valiant fight for survival but it was no match for the storm of the century.