Hiker missing for 10 days says he survived by drinking a gallon of water each day

A hiker is rescued after spending 10 days lost in the mountains near Santa Cruz, Calif.

A hiker is rescued after spending 10 days lost in the mountains near Santa Cruz, Calif. (WHAS 11, YouTube, SLV Steve)

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SANTA CRUZ, Calif — A California man spent 10 days stranded in the mountains after he got lost on a hike, relying in part on large volumes of water to survive.

Lukas McClish, 34, set out for what he thought would be a three-hour hike in the Santa Cruz Mountains on June 11, according to CNN affiliate KGO. But he became lost in the mountains – partially due to the destruction of local landmarks in recent wildfires.

His family officially reported him missing when he didn't show up for a Father's Day dinner on June 16, triggering search and rescue efforts, KGO reported.

McClish was eventually found on Thursday thanks to a drone from the Santa Cruz Sheriff's Office, according to an X post from Cal Fire San Mateo, which said McClish was found in Big Basin Redwoods State Park – California's oldest state park and home to towering ancient coast redwood trees.

"There were multiple reports of witnesses hearing someone yelling for help, but the location of that person was hard to establish," said Cal Fire.

McClish was found with "no major injuries and was reunited with his family," according to the sheriff's office.

Speaking with KGO, McClish said he was "tired and a little sore" after his ordeal. "I lost my voice," he added.

All he had to survive in the forest were the clothes he was wearing when he left: "I left with just a pair of pants, and my pair of hiking shoes, and a hat," he told KGO. "I had a flashlight, and a pair of folding scissors, like a Leatherman tool. And that was about it."

He attributed his survival to drinking lots of water from creeks and waterfalls he found as he hiked through the park each day, calling for help, according to CNN affiliate KSBW.

"I just make 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," McClish told KGO.

Seeing the number of search and rescue workers who worked to find him was "really humbling," he said. "It was an awesome experience."

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Zoe Sottile


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