Man survives 10 days in Northern California wilderness with no food

Lost in the Santa Cruz wilderness, Lukas McClish started shouting for help, realizing he was pushing his body to the limit after more than a week with almost no food or supplies.

That strategy likely saved his life.

Multiple people heard his cries for help, directing rescue teams to a remote area of Big Basin Redwoods State Park near Foreman Creek. Using a drone, first responders were able to locate the 34-year-old in the remote forest where he'd been lost for 10 days.

McClish, an avid hiker, was rescued Thursday without major injuries and reunited with his family, according to the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office. Photos from the scene showed an emotional reunion as he emerged from the wilderness covered in dirt and scratches, with wild hair and a beard.

He had departed on what he expected to be a short hike 10 days prior, without even a shirt on his back.

Read more: After 22 hours in the wilderness, 4-year-old boy from Torrance found safe

"I left with just a pair of my pants and my pair of hiking shoes and a hat," McClish told ABC News. "I had a flashlight and pair of folding scissors — like a Leatherman tool — and that was about it."

He said he lost 30 pounds in those 10 days he was lost, drinking water from streams and waterfalls to stay alive. At one point, a mountain lion followed him around, but he was never was too worried about surviving until the end when he started dreaming about his next meal, he told KSBW-TV News of Salinas.

"I didn't bring anything because I thought I was doing a three-hour hike," he said.

While drinking water from nature was McClish's only option, officials caution against the practice.

"Never drink water from a natural source that you haven’t purified, even if the water looks clean," a National Parks Service post warns. "Water in a stream, river or lake may look clean, but it can still be filled with bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can result in waterborne diseases."

McClish's family had filed a missing person's report when he didn't return home after several days, prompting the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office to circulate a bulletin calling him a "missing person at risk."

"This truly was a team effort with the best outcome we could have hoped for," the Sheriff's Office said in a statement.

Sign up for Essential California for news, features and recommendations from the L.A. Times and beyond in your inbox six days a week.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.