Two bodies have been found in Joshua Tree National Park, locked in an embrace, nearly three months after a southern California couple vanished while hiking nearby.
The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department said the bodies were found at the end of a trail of water bottles and food wrappers. Officials have not yet confirmed the identities of the bodies, pending an autopsy, the Daily Mail reported.
Rachel Nguyen and Joseph Orbeso, 20 and 21, were reported missing July 28, after they failed to check out of their accommodation near the park. Orbeso was from Lakewood and Nguyen from Westminster - both suburbs south of Los Angeles.
Orbeso's father Gilbert took part in the search at the weekend.
"I believed I was going to find them. I didn't know when, but I had my answer today," Gilbert told KABC.
He said that they found clothing and a trail of water bottles and food wrappers led them to the bodies, which were embracing one another.
"I hope that they can rest in peace now," Gilbert said.
He added to KESQ: "After going a long time on these hikes, I feel that we have closure, and we know we found them. That was our main goal, was to find them."
Authorities said a ping from Orbeso's cellphone was recorded in the park a day before the couple was reported missing.
The couple's car was later found in the northwestern area of the park, the Hi-Desert Star reported.
Orbeso and Nguyen's car, a burgundy Lexus, was discovered near the Maze Loop, in the northwest area of the park, and footprints were seen leading away from it.
"The way the tracks were picked up indicate these people could be walking in circles, which is not uncommon when people are lost," George Land, a spokesman for Joshua Tree National Park, told the Orange County Register.
Temperatures in the park had topped 37C and it was unclear whether the couple had water and supplies with them.
Land said the couple did not appear to be experienced hikers.
"They weren't desert rats," Land said. "This is a whole different world out here."
Orbeso and Nguyen visited Joshua Tree National Park to celebrate her birthday, according to their friend Austin Young, 23.
Young said Orbeso, a security guard at a Long Beach golf course, was "in very good shape, always carries knives when hiking and is a survivalist".
"He is also the most respectful, honest, and straight-forward person you will ever meet," he said.