A 23-year-old California hiker and his dog were rescued after spending more than three days lost in the Northern California wilderness when the resourceful hiker used duct tape to spell out “help” on a rock outcropping, which was spotted by rescue helicopters.
Cody Michael of Rocklin, California, decided to take his german shepherd Bauer on an overnight hiking and camping trip into Tahoe National Forest along the Sierra Nevada mountain range on Sunday, May 15, and told his family he would return the next day.
The experienced hiker sent a picture message to his parents at around 10:30 a.m. on Monday informing them that he would be leaving by noon that day. That was the last they heard from him, and when he failed to return home, his family contacted the Placer County Sheriff’s Office, which kicked off a three-day search.
Utilizing Facebook to engage the public, the Placer County Sheriff’s Office and California Office of Emergency Services gathered a team of 30 search volunteers and, assisted by snowmobiles and helicopters, began an exhaustive search for Michael through the wooded and rocky terrain of the forest.
For the better part of three days, the collective search efforts came up fruitless, and hopes of finding Michael began to dwindle.
But late Thursday morning, air searchers spotted the plea for help duct taped to a rock cropping and saw Michael waving up and down at their rescue helicopter. They airlifted Michael and Bauer to safety before rushing Michael off to a local hospital for treatment.
According to Michael, he had lost his way along the snow-covered Loch Leven Lakes trail inside Tahoe National Forest and became disoriented. In an attempt to hopefully find a trail, Michael decided to continue pushing through the wilderness, walking as far as he could until the paws on Bauer’s feet were so worn down the dog simply couldn’t go any further.
“Every morning I got up and just thought I would figure a way and I didn’t,” Michael told Fox 40. “And [Bauer] couldn’t really go anymore. That’s when I just set up camp and figured they’re going to come get me or I’m not going to make it.”
After an emotional reunion with his family, Michael told Fox 40 that just hours prior to his rescue he thought he and Bauer were done for.
“Five hours or so ago, I didn’t think I was going to make it,” he told the news station. “I really didn’t. This is all I wanted, was to see my family again.”
Luckily, Michael made it out okay. And for all the dog lovers worried about his faithful canine companion, the Placer County Sheriff’s Office made sure to let everyone know that Bauer was in fine spirits.
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