Ed Rosenthal was Jewish kid from the mean streets of Rockaway, Queens who became a real estate broker in Downtown Los Angeles. His passion is poetry, writing about the historic buildings he sells and advocates to preserve. He hates slumlords, is fed up with his buyers, but finally closes The Big Deal and saves a century’s-old icon: Clifton’s Cafeteria. It is fall of 2010 and he’s ready to not to talk to anyone for a week. After the ribbon cutting he skips town and makes his way toward the Mojave to bathe at a natural spring and take his favorite hiking trip in Joshua Tree National Park. But his vacation soon turns into a nightmare. Over six grueling days without water, food, or hope, he discovers a well of perseverance in the snippets of his life that play over the deadly but inspiring landscape, in which he finds himself utterly and inexplicably lost. The God of Random Chance has, despite his best efforts his whole life, finally caught up to him. He describes his ordeal and its setting in intimate, vivid detail: surreal visions mix with wayfinding and intuitive wisdom in a poet’s-eye view of the life-lessons and magic that the desert can hold.
Rosenthal’s shocking ordeal was covered on The Outdoor Channel, local broadcast, The Weather Channel, in Los Angeles Magazine, and interviewed by Dick Gordon for “The Story” on National Public Radio. In 2014 he was the subject of an episode of “Fight to Survive” with Bear Grylls on The Outdoor Channel.
What he did next was inspired and most probably saved his life.... He began to write…
—Bear Grylls, "Escape From Hell" on The Discovery Channel
Ed Rosenthal’s gripping Salvation Canyon is about a desert hike gone wrong and a transformative, face-to-face confrontation with death…. The narrative is poignant as it reveals the clash between Rosenthal’s longing to merge with the beauty he saw around him, including the daytime landscape brushed with glowing color and clear night skies awash with stars, with nature’s indifference to his plight. With death near, Rosenthal wrote loving notes to his wife and daughter. Lonely, he allowed a lowly fly to befriend him. He prayed. A light rain fell. And, on the seventh day, he heard a helicopter and rejoiced. Intimate and moving, Ed Rosenthal’s memoir shows how the desert that almost took his life also laid claim to his heart.
—Kristine Morris, Foreword Reviews
Rosenthal, who is Jewish but not particularly devout, prayed. … He prayed for rain, and 10 seconds later it rained. He lay down in amazement and the drops wet his parched tongue.
The writing is marvelous, the language wholly appropriate, with snatches of humor defying the reality. Salvation Canyon is a wondrous cautionary tale, enjoyable because of what can only be termed ‘a happy ending.’
—Jane Menaster, Manhattan Book Review (5 stars)
Ed Rosenthal maps out the dangerous journeys of the heart and the imagination in that hallucinatory place between mind and body, between nature and man, between the past and the future.
—Elena Karina Byrne, poet and Poetry Director, LA Times Festival of Books
The afternoon hike turned into a six-day nightmare when Rosenthal got lost. Search teams on horseback and in helicopters combed the area, but, as time dragged on, did not expect to find him alive. Rosenthal was missing during one of California’s worst heat waves in years. It reached 120 degrees in the desert