Lost Hiker Survives 10 Days In California Wilderness, Here's His Harrowing Tale...

By Alan Hume | Tuesday, 25 June 2024 01:00 AM
Views 3.1K

In a remarkable tale of survival, a hiker who disappeared in the remote mountains of California was found alive after ten days, having subsisted on wild berries and water sipped from his boot.

Lukas McClish, a 34-year-old experienced hiker, had embarked on a three-hour trek through the Big Basin Redwoods State Park in Boulder Creek on June 11, with the intention of exploring some rare granite outcroppings in the area.

According to the Daily Mail, McClish, who works in landscaping in forests devastated by wildfires, set off on his journey without informing anyone of his plans. His preparations were minimal, as he had only planned to be out for the afternoon. "I left with a pair of pants, and my hiking shoes and a hat," McClish told KGO-TV. "I had a flashlight and a pair of folding scissors, like a Leatherman tool - and that was about it."

Despite his experience, McClish was taken aback by how quickly he lost his bearings. His disappearance only came to light when he failed to show up for a Father's Day lunch on June 16, five days after his departure. This prompted his parents to raise the alarm.

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During his ordeal, McClish spent nine nights and ten days wandering through the wilderness shirtless, drinking water from a creek using his boot, consuming wild berries, and sleeping on damp leaves. "I just made sure I drank a gallon of water every day, but then after, getting close to the end of it, my body needed food and some kind of sustenance," he said. The ordeal led to a significant weight loss of around 30lbs.

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The situation worsened when a mountain lion began trailing him, and on the eighth day, he contracted hypothermia and slipped while traversing a rock face. This prompted him to call for help, a cry that was eventually heard by some of the 300 rangers who were searching for him. A drone was deployed, and with the assistance of a sniffer dog, McClish was found. Remarkably, he only required one night in the hospital before he could return home to his family, who had been anxiously waiting for him at the edge of the forest.

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McClish explained that the area he was hiking had been ravaged by the CZU Lightning Complex fire of 2020, making it unrecognizable. "That's one thing I didn't take into consideration - when the fire comes through like that and decimates it, it turns into the desert and you're unable to find your bearings," he said. The usual indicators of direction, such as deer trails or hiking paths, had disappeared.

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Initially, McClish viewed his predicament as an opportunity to test his survival skills. "I'm an avid backpacker, so for me to go out for a night or two is not out of the norm," he told the New York Times. However, as the days passed, his concern grew, and he began to seek a way back to civilization.

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His family, meanwhile, had grown worried when he failed to show up for Father's Day and filed a missing person's report, triggering a massive search operation involving nearly 300 people and emergency personnel from several agencies.

During the search, McClish began shouting for help as he battled hypothermia and navigated treacherous terrain. "Help, help, I'm over here," he recalls yelling repeatedly, along with "Is anybody out there?" As he subsisted on wild berries, he dreamt of his next meal. "I wanted a burrito or a taco bowl," he said. "That's what I thought about every day when I, after the first five days, when I started to kind of realize that I might be in over my head."

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Finally, two park rangers heard McClish's cries on the evening of June 20. A drone was deployed by the Boulder Creek Fire Department, and a dog tracked him down. He was escorted out of the wilderness by police and reunited with his anxious family. After spending a night in a local hospital, where doctors removed rocks from his back, McClish was able to return home. Despite his harrowing experience, he maintains his love for the wilderness, albeit with a newfound respect for its unpredictability.

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