Here are survival tips for hikers lost and stranded
On his first night lost in a Montana wilderness, 25-year-old hiker Kaden Laga wrote a text to his wife, who is expecting their first child, “in case they found my body cold,” KSTU reported.
“I just said, ‘In case I don’t make it out of here, I love you. I loved my life with you and I’m so sorry I left you to be a single mom,’” Laga said, according to the station.
After five days lost in the Selway-Bitteroot Wilderness on the Montana-Idaho border, Laga stumbled across a search party’s camp early Friday, The Missoulian reported.
The searchers had left on a light, which guided Laga to their camp around 2:45 a.m., according to the publication.
“My Kaden is finally home,” wrote Arden Laga, his wife, on a Facebook page dedicated to the search effort. Later updates say he’s recovering at home in Utah from the five-day ordeal.
Kaden Laga had become separated from his family on a horseback-riding trip Aug. 11 when one of the horses came up lame, KSL reported. He offered to hike the rest of the way, but failed to turn up at the meeting point.
“All of a sudden I find myself on the side of the mountain and I have no idea where I am,” Kaden Laga said, KUTV reported.
After a wet and cold first night alone on the mountain, during which he composed his text, Kaden Laga decided to do whatever it took to keep a promise he’d made to his wife to return, KSTU reported.
“No matter what, you’re getting off this mountain and it doesn’t matter how long it takes, it doesn’t matter how hard it is, you can’t die here,” Kaden Laga says he told himself, KUTV reported.
With no reception on his cell phone and sleeping just three hours a night, Kaden Laga spent most of the next five days searching for a trail out of the wilderness, KSL reported.
“He ate grasshoppers and ants and he said ‘Did you know that ants are kind of sweet?’” said Debbie Laga, his mother, according to the station.
Kaden Laga said he twice saw helicopters flying overhead as they searched for him but had been unable to attract their attention, KUTV reported.
“They’re coming and I’m like ‘This is it, they’re going to get me,’ then whoosh! and they just take off the other direction,” he said, according to the station.
After finding the search camp Friday, Kaden Laga was airlifted out of the wilderness and reunited with his family, The Missoulian reported. He did not require hospitalization.
“He was his same hilarious funny self,” Debbie Laga said, KSL reported. “He looks great. He was dirty as all get out but he looked wonderful.”
Kaden Laga said he was grateful for the massive search operation and volunteers, KSTU reported.
“It’s a real tangible feeling that I felt every minute that I was lost. That I could feel people praying for me,” he said, according to the station.