Hiker Lost in Wilderness Rescued After Surviving 10 Days on Water and Berries

A hiker from Northern California survived a harrowing 10-day ordeal after he got lost in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

hiker lost in santa cruz mountains

Sometimes, our faith is tested in the most unexpected ways. This story reminds us that even in the midst of dire circumstances, God’s presence can provide comfort and strength.

On June 11, Lukas McClish, 34, set out for what he thought would be a quick three-hour hike near Boulder Creek. But recent wildfires had changed the landmarks he knew, and he lost his way.

Unbeknownst to anyone, Lukas ended up deeper in the wilderness, totally unprepared for what turned into a long stay.

“I left with just a pair of pants, my hiking shoes, a hat, a flashlight, and a pair of folding scissors like a Leatherman tool. That was about it,” McClish shared, reflecting on his minimal gear.

Days passed, and his family grew worried, especially when he didn’t show up for Father’s Day dinner on June 16. They reported him missing, and a search was initiated.

Lukas managed to survive by drinking creek water and eating wild berries. “I just made sure I drank a gallon of water every day,” he said. He used his boot to collect water and found sustenance in the wild berries he foraged.

Despite the tough conditions, Lukas stayed calm. “I felt comfortable the whole time I was out there – I wasn’t worried. I think it was just somebody watching over me,” he said, expressing his faith in divine protection.

The search for McClish involved the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office, drones, and assistance from Cal Fire, Boulder Creek Fire Department, and California State Parks.

On June 20, after days of searching, people heard his calls for help. He was found at the bottom of a remote canyon in Big Basin State Park.

Throughout his ordeal, McClish faced not only the challenge of finding food and water but also the presence of wildlife. At one point, a mountain lion followed him, though it kept its distance. His nights were spent on a bed of wet leaves, with only his thoughts and faith to keep him company.

“Some nights, I just had to trust God that he was going to be OK, and that was hard to do,” said his mother, Diane McClish. Her faith and the support of their community provided solace during the uncertain times.

The Boulder Creek community rallied around the McClish family, offering prayers and support. Diane McClish expressed her gratitude: “I had people come to me and tell me how much they love my son and how they just hoped that we would find him. I didn’t realize that so many people in this town love Luke.”

Rescue efforts culminated when first responders, equipped with off-road vehicles, reached McClish and brought him to safety. He returned with no major injuries, just a bit tired and sore.

The experience left a lasting impression on McClish and his family. “I did enough hiking for probably the whole rest of the year,” he joked.

We all face challenges that test our faith. McClish’s experience inspires us to stay strong, knowing God is always guiding us. Let this remind us to rely on our faith during tough times. With faith and community, we can overcome any obstacle, just like Lukas McClish.

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