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How an Iowa native survived 5 days lost in the San Bernardino Mountains

River to River, hosted by Ben Kieffer

Iowa native Eric Desplinter only had two energy bars in hand as he found himself lost in the San Bernardino Mountains after his companion took a fall into the canyon, derailing them from the trail. The two wouldn't be found for five days.

For those days, his mother, Karen Ziebarth, could only wait for news from search and rescue, unsure if her son was still alive. The story of her son's survival is the subject of her first book, Two Trails: A Hiker's Story of Survival and His Mother's Story of Hope.


  • Eric Desplinter, search and rescue volunteer
  • Karen Ziebarth, first-time author
Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River
Dani Gehr is a producer for River to River and Talk of Iowa. Dani came to Iowa from her hometown in the northwest suburbs of Chicago to attend Iowa State University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in journalism, international studies and French. Before coming to IPR, Dani covered local government in Story County for the Ames Tribune and Des Moines Register.