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On June 18, 25-year-old Andrew Devers parked his car at the Middle Fork Campground near North Bend, Washington, with plans to hike out the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Trail. The popular out-and-back near Seattle is popular with day hikers and mountain bikers; backpackers use it to access the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Since bridge constructed by trail volunteers and the USFS several years ago eliminated a dangerous river ford, the route is now a mellow, lowland hike, which has seen hundreds of outdoor enthusiast visits without incident.
Devers, though, didn’t return. When he missed his expected return time, King County Search and Rescue arrived to assist; sheriff’s deputies found his car still at Middle Fork Campground, and the search pattern expanded from there.
“We’ve got volunteers all over the different road systems—scouting the roads, scouting the trails, dogs are out searching,” a SAR volunteer told Q13 Fox News on June 23. At the height of the search over 40 SAR personnel were out in the woods, trying to retrace Devers’ steps. Though searchers remained optimistic, the days kept ticking on, with no sign of Devers even as a heat wave began to settle in over the Pacific Northwest. Eventually, teams suspended the search.
On Sunday morning, however, Devers turned up when a trail runner found him near the Middle Fork Trailhead, putting an end to the eight-day search. Emergency personnel transported Devers to an area hospital to recover from his ordeal; while it’s not yet clear how the hiker ended up stranded, Devers told rescuers that he had survived by drinking river water and foraging berries.
While a lot of survival literature focuses around finding food in the wilderness, the truth is that eating won’t be a matter of life and death for most lost hikers. As the commonly-used “rule of three” dictates, a lost person can expect to survive roughly three hours without shelter in extreme weather, three days without water, and three weeks without food. If you do plan on foraging, learning what kind of common edible plants are available where you’ll be hiking—and how to find them—is an important first step.