Although the two had previously dated, she and Orbeso were now just good friends. In fact, Nguyen had wanted to go hiking at Joshua Tree National Park to celebrate her 20th birthday with another man who she had a crush on. But he’d been otherwise engaged and suggested that she go with Orbeso instead.
The two of them lodged at an Airbnb letting, and then set out early in the morning of 27 July for their hike. They subsequently drove to the Maze Loop trailhead in a red Lexus. After parking at the start of the path, the pair set off into the desert.
Joshua Tree National Park is located about 140 miles east of Los Angeles. It’s a desert wilderness with a variety of spectacular scenery spread over some 800,000 acres. And its natural beauty, as well as the hiking, rock climbing and camping opportunities that it offers, attract some 1.4 million visitors each year. Although the park’s busiest times are from winter to spring, Nguyen and Orbeso were hiking in July, the height of summer.