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A La Quinta man who went hiking alone in Joshua Tree National Park last Thursday is lucky to be alive after he fell and broke his leg and was stranded in the desert for nearly two days. Robert Ringo went to the park Thursday and parked his car about 1 ½ miles from the Keys View overlook area. He then hiked east into the desert. He hadn’t gone far—about a quarter of a mile—before he fell and broke his left leg. Ringo said he had tagged his location before he left, and on Friday, his family started looking for him. Park rangers were notified in the early morning hours by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department about the missing hiker. When rangers arrived at the Keys View area at 5 a.m. Saturday, they found deputies on scene with Ringo’s vehicle. Canine and human trackers, as well as a CHP helicopter, quickly located Ringo about one-quarter mile east of the Key’s View Road. He was transported by backboard to a CHP helicopter, and then flown to Desert Hospital in Palm Springs where he had surgery on his broken leg. Ringo is expected to make a full recovery, and said he plans to continue hiking.

Managing editor Tami Roleff offers these tips on hiking safely in the desert…

The first rule of hiking is don’t hike alone. The second rule is to tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return. Bring at least one quart of water for every hour you plan to be gone. Hike in the early morning or late evening hours and avoid the hottest part of the day. Even experienced hikers can be overcome by heat-related illness. Most areas of Joshua Tree National Park and many areas of the Mojave Desert have no cell phone service; to be extra safe, bring a satellite phone or a personal locator beacon that you can activate in case of an emergency.