Lukas McClish
Lukas McClish, the 34-year-old missing hiker, was found on June 21. Credit: Facebook

Missing Hiker Survived 10 Days Eating Berries and Drinking Boot Water

By day eight, Lukas McClish started to get a little concerned, so that's when he started yelling for help.

California authorities located the 34-year-old missing hiker Lukas McClish, who survived 10 days alone in the Santa Cruz Mountains. According to an announcement, the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office found McClish on Friday after multiple witnesses heard him yelling for help in Big Basin State Park.

Authorities say McClish went hiking in the Boulder Creek area on the morning of June 11. His family reported him missing a few days later after he missed dinner on Father's Day. Then, multiple agencies deployed a search team.

After receiving multiple reports of a person yelling, the search team used drones to search the area until they found McClish. In all, the search took about 300 people from multiple agencies and search dogs four days to find him. He was located about seven miles from where he started.

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How the missing hiker got lost and survived

When McClish left for his hike, he planned to be out for about three hours, so he brought minimal supplies. They included a flashlight and Leatherman tool.

The experienced backpacker told reporters that he essentially got lost in the terrain because it looked completely different from what he remembered. Wildfires destroyed the area in 2020.

"That's one thing that 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," McClish told the New York Times.

Once he realized he was lost, he saw it as an opportunity to explore the unfamiliar area and test his survival skills. So he hiked across a canyon for better shelter and tried to find a stream.

How exactly he survived, he told the newspaper that he had been "doing the water-diet thing," which involves drinking a gallon and a half of water every day. With that, he said, "You don't need food until you run out of carbs." He told reporters that he foraged for food and drank water out of his boot.

By day five, he realized he might be in trouble, so he decided to try to get back to civilization. He said he knew if he kept walking toward the sun, he'd eventually get to the ocean. On day eight, he started yelling for help, and then on the tenth day, searchers answered his calls.

Despite losing about 30 pounds and getting some rocks stuck in his back, authorities say they found him relatively unscathed. McClish told reporters that although he had been on more treacherous trails before, this was a new experience. "I just don't really fear that much," McClish told the newspaper. "I embrace the wilderness."