As usual, the simplest explanation is the most likely: They hiked down a steep ravine full of thick brush and lost the trail in the dark. The terrain was too steep and the brush too thick to find their way out.
What started as a short afternoon hike a week ago Saturday began to take a bad turn when the couple lost track of time and darkness overcame them.
Had it ended there, Arnaud Stehle said, “it would be a good joke to tell on Sunday. Some people would make fun of us and that would be it.”
Instead, the Stehles daily efforts to find a path out of the park proved fruitless. The couple would pick up what they thought was a trail and follow it for two miles. “In the end” it was always the same, Maria Stahle said, “nothing.”
This story in the S.F. Chronicle has them describing unexpected cloud cover blocking their view of the ridge as the sun went down Saturday. Before long they were stuck. Those were pretty clouds. I got some good pictures of them hiking in the Santa Cruz Mountains 20 miles north of there last Saturday. Just my luck: I had all my survival gear and didn’t need it.