Hiker rescued after going missing for 10 days in Santa Cruz Mountains

A man who went missing in the Santa Cruz Mountains was rescued safely this week, according to the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office. 

Lukas McClish of Boulder Creek went missing on June 11. He was reported missing by his family on June 15. 

Witnesses in Big Basin State Park reported hearing someone yelling for help on Thursday, but it took some time to figure out where the sound was coming from. 

McClish who had last been heard from 10 days earlier, was rescued by park rangers after someone heard his screams for help echoing through the forest.

"Dude I’m really grateful," said McClish of the man who heard his screams and called authorities.

10 days earlier, the 34-year-old avid outdoorsman decided to hike his way to a landscaping job he was working on.

"I was just thinking ‘Okay, I’ll get to check out a new trail and in about three hours or less, I’ll be at work’," said McClish.

Three hours later, McClish still hadn’t made it to his destination, but said he was unconcerned because he'd done similar hikes many times before. 

"It was nice country. I just kept on going. It’s not uncommon for me to go off for a night or two by myself to go backpack."

McClish said he was eager to check out a part of the backcountry he hadn’t seen before.

"I realized it was about time to go home the fifth day," said McClish.

That's when McClish said he realized that he wasn’t sure which way home was.

"When I knew I was lost was about the fifth day," said McClish.

Recent wildfires had left the forest he was exploring mostly bare.

"If you don’t have landmarks or anything, and all you have is walls of underbrush, it makes it very hard to navigate the land," said McClish. 

Meantime, a massive search effort was underway for McClish by the Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Office, CalFire, and other area departments. 

McClish said he relied on his survivalist skills while they looked for him.

"There’s no foraging, the land’s barren, there’s no berries and there’s no mushrooms to eat like you could normally find," said McClish.

To maintain his energy, he said he drank purified groundwater that was feeding nearby creeks.

"I never really believed in the water diet, but it’s real. You drink a gallon, a gallon and a half a day. I was surprised by the amount of energy I had," said McClish.

That energy pushed him forward to try to find help.

"The only thing I could do is look at the sun and keep going West till I hit the ocean," said McClish.

Finally, his screams for help were heard on Friday, and two park rangers eventually emerged from the brush to find him scraped up and exhausted, but otherwise okay.

With the help of drones from the sheriff's office, McClish was found in the trees between Empire Grade and Big Basin Highway, near Foreman Creek in Santa Cruz County. 

"I was like ‘Oh my God am I glad to see you guys’," said McClish.

Despite the ordeal, McClish said he still plans to go hiking again, perhaps in a week or two.

"Thank you to each agency and our dispatch for helping relay all of the information to necessary departments. This truly was a team effort with the best outcome we could have hoped for," CalFire CZU wrote of the rescue.