‘This was not a hoax’: Equestrian photographer who vanished on camping trip shares details about being stuck on a snowy mountain

The California woman found safe last week after she went missing while on a camping trip has shared more details about her dayslong ordeal.

As CrimeOnline previously reported, Holly Jochum was found on Friday near Idyllwild, California, five days after she had told her family she was driving in her RV to Joshua Tree. The accomplished equestrian photographer had initially planned to go camping in Big Bear, but found that the campgrounds were closed when she arrived there on December 27. She called her family that Sunday and said she was going to head to Joshua Tree National Park instead.

In an Instagram post detailing how she went missing, Jochum said that she “randomly selected a campsite” on her drive south towards the desert. Though Jochum is an experienced camper, this particular location was unfamiliar to her, she said, but decided to drive to a campsite there, and the road proved to be somewhat difficult terrain. She decided to spend the night in a secluded area in the RV with her two dogs, and planned to drive back down in the morning when it was light out. She said that she did not have any cell phone service at that point and did not want to stay for any longer than needed. But that night and into the next day, a snowstorm dropped about two feet of snow.

“By Tuesday there was nearly two feet of very fine, fresh powder and I was STUCK,” Jochum wrote.

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When the sun did not melt the snow as she had hoped, Jochum came up with a plan to hike down the mountain with her two dogs. She said that the snow was too deep for the dogs to walk in, so she carried them in two backpacks and began the six-mile hike down the mountain pass on Friday morning. Eventually she reached an area where she had cell phone service and contacted her mother, and local authorities. She met with a sheriff at the bottom of the road and the sheriff drove her to Cabazon, where she was reunited with her mother.

Jochum addressed in the post what she said were “rumors” about her disappearance, clarifying that she was not airlifted off the mountain. “This was not a hoax or a scam,” Jochum said, presumably referring to the GoFundMe campaign that had been launched late last week to hire a private investigator. A message on the campaign suggests that law enforcement was slow to activate a search for Jochum. The campaign remains active, and has generated over $16,000 in donations. It is unclear if the money was used toward a private investigator, but Jochum said in the Instagram post that she would not be keeping any of the GoFundMe money.

“It’s going to be paid out to anyone who charges services in recovering me. The rest will be returned or donated to charity,” she wrote.

It does not appear that Jochum or her dogs were physically harmed during the ordeal.

“I’m so thankful for everyone was involved in searching for me, for everyone who shared the missing persons post, and mostly for my family who tried with every ounce they had to bring me back,” Jochum wrote.

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