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Out Alive Podcast

Finding Life on the Edge of Death

Andrew Devers survived 9 days near the Pratt River Trail in Washington by drinking stream water and eating berries. But the biggest threat to his own survival and only hope turned out to be himself.

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Louisa: A warning that this episode contains discussion of suicidal thoughts.

To a lone hiker, the woods teem with threats. There are wild animals, of course, and exposure to the elements. There are the looming risks of dehydration, starvation, and the terror that comes with the fall of darkness. But for some, worse than the fear of the woods themselves are the ruthless fabrications of one’s own mind, especially in stressful situations.

Inner demons can be as powerful as a stroke of lightning or a sudden blizzard. In today’s story, we explore what happens when the biggest obstacle to survival, and only hope, is oneself.

Trailer: I made a decision to survive. You’re that survival mode. The idea of dying wasn’t in my head. I knew immediately it was the worst-case scenario.

I was in a fight-for-my-life situation. Whenever you walk in these trails, you’re in their house. I’m Louisa Albanese, and you’re listening to Out Alive by Backpacker. In each episode of this podcast, we’ll bring you real stories of real people who survived the unsurvivable. I saw the rope zip through the repel ring, and I couldn’t do anything. Learn what went wrong, what went right, and how you can escape if the worst-case scenario happens to you. There is no way we would find anybody alive.

Andrew: On June 18, on Friday, I had set to go out to the Snoqualmie National Forest. That specific trail that I was on was the Pratt River Trail.

Louisa: ​This is Andrew Devers. A then-25-year-old living in Seattle.

Andrew: I hadn’t been on this specific trail before, but I’d been near the area. I’d been on hikes for the past three years before this. Roughly, like, I don’t know, four each summer. So I’m not a survival expert. But, I did track and I have legs, so I was confident that I could walk. I initially set out to get a clear head, being able to just be with myself and my physical body and the physical sensations around me, like smelling trees and seeing the views that I haven’t seen before that often gives me a clear head.

Krysteena: So usually what happens when he goes on his little walks or his little hikes, he will either text me or email me or write me a note about where he’s going.

Louisa: This is Andrew’s longtime girlfriend, Krysteena. They’ve been together for eight years and have lived together since high school.

Krysteena: I was sleeping and he woke up very briefly, and he’s like, “Hey, I’m going to go on just a little hike. Shouldn’t be more than a few hours.”

Andrew: I had gotten to the trail at maybe 12, 12:30. This isn’t a story of a super prepared man, but I’ll be able to say what I did have. I had my backpack. Inside my backpack, I had my notebook, which I write things down with any random ideas. I had a book with me called steal heart, and I had a giant water thermos.

And then as I was doing. I brought Mountain Dew. It was in my trunk, and I had forgotten to take it out of my car for target. I have ADHD, and stimulant medication is prescribed for ADHD. Caffeine is a stimulant. So I was like, sure, in case I need clear thought, let’s say two cans of Mountain Dew. So this trail was newish. It had just opened up for hiking season. It wasn’t well-maintained, so upon initially starting it, the grass was roughly up to my knees. A little bit spiky. It was already a little bit hard to follow. I went for a couple of miles, and I saw a sign that said, “Landslide ahead, don’t go this way.” Because it’s blocked off. Maybe I should’ve paid more attention to that sign. I was walking and walking and kind of like whenever you’re driving and you just space off for just a little bit and you miss an exit. I was in my own head for, I don’t know, 30 minutes or so, and I looked around. The landslide had completely messed up the entirety of the middle part of the trail.

When I decided to turn around, the landslide had gotten worse. So I could no longer find where straight was.

Louisa: Back in Seattle, Krysteena was waking up. She searched the usual spots around the house and in her texts for a note like Andrew usually left with his whereabouts. This time, nothing.

Krysteena: And then like, “Oh no, I don’t even know where he’s at.”

And I’m like, “It’s okay. It’s whatever. He’ll be back.”

Andrew: I didn’t think too much. There were not that many, like red flags, like alert and danger. I was like, oh, it must be this path. This path looks like the other ones that I’ve taken. These are all just, it looks like you’re just going through the forest.

I carried that on for roughly 20 to 30 minutes. There was no thing that was relatively close to anything that I’d seen before. And suddenly I’m just a man in a forest. It’s starting to get to like maybe 4 or 5 or so, am I starting to get a little hungry.

Louisa: In an effort to get his bearings, Andrew found a high point and climbed into a tree to look around.

Andrew: I found a view, and this kind of messed me up more because I had never seen the forest from that overhead perspective, so that scared the shit out of me because I was like, “Wow, we are super fricking lost. There’s nothing here. Great. There’s there’s no one.”

At that point, I started to freak out. I realized that as night would go on, I would just make worse decisions. And my chances of injury would be a little high. I didn’t know where the way out was, so I just started walking.

Louisa: If you’re familiar with survival tactics, you’ve probably heard that if you get lost, it’s best to stay, put. That way you won’t wander too far from the trail or where help might be able to reach you.

But in Andrew’s mind at the time, staying put wasn’t an option.

Andrew: I can’t sit still normally at all. I was avidly screaming, like “Help! I’m lost! Is anybody there?”

Louisa: By late afternoon, he wasn’t back. Krysteena was getting worried, but it wasn’t out of character for Andrew to get distracted, make some new friends, or deviate from his original plan. At the same time, it was unlike him to forget to tell her what he was up to.

Krysteena: That was when I started reaching out to some friends and being like, “Hey, are you like hanging out with Andrew? Has he talked to you at all today?” And I was getting back replies with like, “No haven’t heard from him. No. Why?”

Louisa: Andrew figured that his best chance of finding help was by finding water, so he followed his ears to a stream. It was there that the acoustics in the valley began playing awful tricks on him.

Andrew: I heard actual conversations on this river. I remember hearing somebody say, “What’s that?” In response to what I said, like maybe five seconds later.

And I was like, “It’s me! Andrew! I’m lost, I’m super fricking lost. I don’t know where I’m going. Hello, help.” And then I heard a “What’s that?” And then I heard a snippet of a conversation saying, “I don’t know; let’s keep going.” I guess I’m a little hangry, and I’m giving into like angry thoughts. I was just, my brain just started eating itself alive with if I sounded all little cuter, would people have taken me seriously? Do I sound crazy? Why is no one coming to help me?

It started becoming not so pleasant. Whenever it started getting dark, I needed some sense of security. So I put my back to a tree, I got in a fetal position. I used my majestic hair to make a makeshift mosquito net, and I just laid in the fetal position.

It was incredibly hard to fall asleep because my brain was trying to go through the survival mode of like, “You must make shelter. And I’m like, dude, just start planning when there’s sunlight. We’ll probably wake up tomorrow and find our way out or sit there and scream tomorrow until people come.”

This is an unfortunate night. Krysteena, she will be upset, but she’ll be fine.

Krysteena: I was getting into like fits of worry and then justification. He’s going to come back from this amazing camping trip that he had with friends he just made on his hike and tell me all about it.

Andrew: I woke up to birds chirping, and sunlight dappling through the trees and shining down on me.

The nights were like 55ish degrees, so pretty cold for a man with shorts and a shirt, but it was relatively comfortable weather in the morning. And during the sunlight, now that I’ve had a full night’s sleep, I’m like, okay, walking is going to get me more lost. I’m as close to the trail that I’ve probably ever been.

So just sit here and yell for help.

Louisa: After a few hours of screaming to no avail, Andrew went in search of water.

Andrew: I heard a stream, and so I followed the stream, and I was just yelling and yelling and yelling for help. And my voice is getting sore. I am so not comfortable with staying still. I would much rather just be moving. The emotions started turning from just hangry to frustration and rage, and I was just convinced that no one was helping me because I was me.

I’ve been a depressed man for a while. Prior to this, two years before this, I was a little suicidal. So I had a plan two years ago. So my brain was not in a healthy state, so you throw any adversity to it, and it just multiplies whatever that is.

So it was like, they’re not coming because you’re you. Nobody’s going to help you. You need to figure your own shit out.

Louisa: Little did Andrew know, back home, his girlfriend and friends were growing very worried and Krysteena began formulating a plan to find him.

Krysteena: It hit the next day, 11 a.m., like a full 24 hours and all the justifications just went out the window.

I couldn’t make sense of it anymore. Why wasn’t he contacting me? There is no way he would leave me alone for 24 hours and not talk to me unless something bad happened.

Louisa: Once 24 hours passed without word from Andrew. Krysteena called the police and filed a missing persons report. Soon, she was meeting with the police.

Andrew: My initial thought process was to go down the mountain to where the river is, where, because I remember my hike started down the mountain. When you’re walking on the Pratt River Trail, there’s a bridge, and then there’s a river. So I was like, if I can find the river, I can go straight. That’s a tangible path for me to be able to follow, to get back to the magical civilization.

So I went down and down and down, but I was very angry, so these were angry steps. I ended up stepping on what I thought was a log. Well, it was a log, but it was dead. When I stepped, I stepped through it and there was this little spiteful piece of nature, just like sticking up like a pin underneath that log.

It embedded myself right underneath my kneecap. Inside my kneecap is bleeding. The whole forest is out to get me, and everything’s coming down and this is exactly what I deserve. And so many negative, negative, negative thoughts.

Krysteena: I was experiencing emotions; the worry, the what are all the worst-case scenarios, what are all the best-case scenarios, but again, trying to not have any kind of anxiety spiraling, not freaking out too much, so I could be coherent when talking to police and the detective that got assigned to the case and all that.

Andrew: I had my thermos with me, my water thermos, and I had it on the side of the backpack. I looked back one time, and it was gone. It had gotten knocked off at some point.

So my thermos of water is gone and I am out of Mountain Dew cans. I’m drinking stream water out of my hands. I am cut, I am bleeding. I do not have a first aid kit. Aside from my book and my notebook, I do not have any other supplies so night two ends in rage, just rage and anger and screaming, my mind kind of reverted back to when I was like an 8 to 10 year old kid, I just felt like I felt like an 8 to 10 year old who really needed to take a nap but did not want to take a nap.

Louisa: Andrew’s thoughts continued to spiral into darkness. Those internal voices he’d battled with for years, they were back, and with as much vitriol as ever.

Andrew: If you were anybody else, you would have found your way out, you would have found the path, you would’ve fricking remembered where you got lost. Andrew, you always lose your keys and wallet. You’re just another ADHD dumbass who got lost, and no one’s going to find you. You’re an idiot. Congratulations.

I started as feeling incapable and like I was making it up. I was making up the pain.

Louisa: As the weekend went on, Krysteena’s worry grew. The detectives still hadn’t found Andrew’s car, so she came up with a plan and a team. Krysteena’s best friend flew in from out of state for support, and Andrew’s hiking buddy Cam also offered to help.

Krysteena: So the three of us, we need a battle plan. We called ourselves the Andrew Rescue Squad. We were like, “Hey, we don’t know where Andrew is, but let’s just put ourselves in Andrew’s shoes and like, where would he go?”

Louisa: The Andrew Rescue Squad looked at a map, came up with a list of possible trails and hit the road.

Andrew: Day three happens. I’m waking up; I’m just exhausted from being angry because that’s an emotion that takes a lot out of you. So I’m starting to think thoughts like, “All right. I’ve been seeing helicopters over me. Let’s try to wave them down. Let’s try again. So maybe look for some people, let’s try to find some source of food. Let’s try to find something.” During this day, I ended up coming across an abandoned campsite, which got my hopes up so high because I was like, “Oh my gosh, these are people. This is the way out. You did it. Congratulations. It’s over. That was, this is been a crazy couple of days, but you did it.”

I was like, “Hello, there’s people!” There’s no one. I had to keep myself entertained because I think combating boredom was also a huge part of that. I could do random, like character impressions, so my brain started isolating different voices that I do into different emotions.

So I had a voice like really Southern gravelly voice. I started isolating that into what I would imagine, like a camping dad would be: “All right. Get your shit together. Let’s keep on going, just keep on walking.” And then I had this really high-pitched kid. It just screams. I had that be like my internal emotions.

“You’re angry. You need to let it out. Let it out.” “Ahhh!” “You feel better? Now let’s go to the campsite, find what we need to find, and let’s keep on going.” I was just like keeping myself entertained by just talking out loud. “We found an abandoned campsite. Let’s look around. Let’s see what supplies we can find.”

There was a rusted pan underneath a tarp. The tarp was huge. I found underneath the tarp a rusted knife. You found a rusted knife! +2 attack damage. The rusted pan, +5 survivability. So I was a little excited because I had things. I would use the rusted pan now to fill it up whenever I got to streams. And I would be able to have that instead of my hands for water. I didn’t use the knife or anything yet, but it gave me a sense of security because you always hear stories of mountain lions or bears.

Louisa: Meanwhile, the Andrew Rescue Squad was ramping up their search efforts.

Krysteena: We went trailhead to trailhead to trailhead and checked them off with pings on live map, and we found the car.

Louisa: It was Monday when they found Andrew’s car at a trailhead for the Pratt River Trail. They contacted the detective and began hiking in. After three hours of fruitless searching, Krysteena and Cam returned to the parking lot where search and rescue was assembling a staging area. Until this point, Krysteena was still hoping for Andrew’s prompt return and had held off alerting family that he was missing. Now with some concrete news, she decided it was finally time to make some calls.

Krysteena: I have the biggest phone call of all to make still. I have to call Andrew’s mother. I have to call his mother and say, “Hey Cindy, can you sit down? Are you sitting down? Okay, Cindy, I’m sorry. I waited so long to tell you, but Andrew is currently a missing person. And he’s been missing since Friday.” Her screams will forever be embedded in my head. And all I could say was, “I know, I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner. I just couldn’t. I had hope that nothing crazy bad was happening.”

Louisa: Andrew’s family flew in, and the search party grew. At one point ballooning to almost 300 volunteers. Meanwhile, Andrew had reached the bottom of the mountain and was walking along the river toward what he hoped was the trailhead.

Andrew: It’s not necessarily super easy to follow alongside a river. There’s no magical trail of sand that you can just walk along, but it’s like rocks and trees and just cliffs that just cut off.

I’m seeing helicopters overhead me, and I’m hearing them. I’m thinking that if I’m near the river, it’s like an open space, so the helicopters will be able to see me.

Louisa: As Andrew was walking along the river, something strange happened. On the opposite bank, it sounded like someone was cutting down trees.

“This is my chance,” he thought. So he continued along the river looking for a safe place to cross.

Andrew: I probably at least a half mile before I found a spot that I deemed safe to cross the river. And it was these six rocks across it. The river was, it wasn’t super crazy high, it was maybe up to my knees or above my knees to thigh, but it was really, really fast, so I start crossing the rocks. I’m on rock four, I’m on rock five. And as I’m putting my pressure down to get onto rock six, my feet go out from underneath me and I get swept away in the river. I’m not a great swimmer, but also I can swim enough to keep myself afloat, but the river doesn’t care. I was so unsure what was happening for the first three seconds.

And then it was like, “Oh my gosh, I’m underwater.” At some point, I reached up and found a branch, and so I held onto the branch. Then I’m trying to like claw my way over, and the branch snaps, which only happens in movies. What had actually happened. Eventually I reached out and I held onto this tree that was partly in the water.

I was able to get onto land eventually.

Louisa: Andrew was safe, but he hadn’t managed to cross the river. He was back where he started, and his swim turned out to pose a big challenge for rescuers. Because of the size and density of the area, searchers brought in dogs to help track Andrew’s scent. Later that week, the dogs would track Andrew to the river, and then right where he fell in, the track was gone. At the trailhead, Krysteena and her friends were offering all the help they could.

Krysteena: How likely is he to stay in place? Now that he’s realized he’s in a tough situation, I’m like 0%. He’s going to be running around, trying to get himself out of this mess.

And that’s the No. 1 thing you’re not supposed to do. PSA to all the listeners: stay put when you get lost.

Andrew: As I’m like recovering, and I’m trying to get onto land, as I was falling asleep. Getting a little bit more, I don’t know, I guess spiritual and I was like asking for help from people. And I heard clear as day, my girlfriend’s voice say, “here,” like it was just in my ear. I looked to my right, and there was a whole trail of salmonberries that I was able to follow to this like mini oasis area where it had one little pond that had a moss rock, so I could lay down on it. It was full of moss, so it felt like a blankets, and it was surrounded three or so salmonberry bushes. I, at this point, was like, “Okay, I am going to sit here and recover, and hopefully one of the helicopters sees me.” I was at a relatively open area. So, I thought that that was pretty reasonable. My sense of sound was all messed up because I couldn’t tell if I was hearing a helicopter, if I was hearing a river. It was still really painful at night, but nonetheless, this was a gorgeous spot.

I’m so mad actually that I’m not going to be able to to find this place again, because it was really, really fricking pretty. I had my own private oasis. I was starting to consider that dying is not out of the question. This was a spot to die. This looks really pretty. A lot of people would say this is a blissful place to call it.

Louisa: We’ll be right back.

Day three became day four, finally forced by the pain in his knees and muscles, Andrew stayed put. He had no energy left to move.

Andrew: At this point, this is a lot of existential thoughts. Two days ago, I hated the dude who got lost. I was forced to think, “Well, if you were to die here. Were you a good dude? Was your time worth it?” My childhood wasn’t really that fun. There was just a lot of trauma, and my self-worth wasn’t very high. I really only looked at my life as an extension for others. I never proposed to my girlfriend because I liked her, but I didn’t like me. So why would I want someone that I like to be with someone that I don’t like.

You’re only 25. You haven’t really accomplished a lot, but at the very least, all of your friends, you’re able to make laugh, and you’ve helped out a bunch of people who were in need.

I had to accept that my life was worth living. I had to accept that it was okay to not hate myself a little bit, and it’s okay to be proud of the things that I’ve done. There are actually a lot of cool things that I’ve done.

I guess it just felt better. Or maybe when you are dying, your brain is trying to be nice to you. There was a spot that I came to that day, where if I had died at that moment, I would have been proud of the person who made it that far. I deserve to live.

Louisa: Andrew passed the day watching helicopters in the distance, hoping one would catch sight of him.

Andrew: I gathered all the darker rocks, and I made an SOS. I had like sticks that I was going to throw, and that I was going to flag down. Out of nowhere. The helicopter comes overhead, like right overhead, me and I have a half second to like, “Oh God, it’s here. And I throw my sticks and I scream.”

And it seemed like as soon as it got to the river, like that was the end of its path. And instead of the slow searching, it just hit the gas and. And that was just an emotional kick. And at that point it was like, all right, I guess no one’s coming from me. I guess I’m saving me.

Louisa: It was approaching a week since Andrew went missing. Even Krysteena could tell, as the days passed, searchers were growing frustrated.

Krysteena: Eventually they were like, all right, the scent is almost gone from what we have of him. We keep picking up on his scent and then it disappears. So they flew in one of the best bloodhounds in the country currently for search and rescue.

This dog was on a search and rescue in another state. So they flew in this dog, this Hail Mary of a dog because the heat wave was coming.

Louisa: You might remember the record-breaking Seattle heatwave that made national news in the summer of 2021. That heat wave hit during Andrew’s second weekend in the woods.

Krysteena: 300 people looking, breaking down this giant 20-mile radius area into chunks to search, and then they brought in the super dog, and the same thing happened with all the other dogs. Super dog got his scent, followed it, and then it went right to the water’s edge, and then it got lost. And on top of that, with the heat wave coming, there was going to be no searching on the weekend. It’s too dangerous.

It’s too dangerous for the dogs. It’s too dangerous for the people. It’s just not a good situation. You could just feel the energy shifting on like Thursday and Friday morning, and then the detective and the lead search and rescue and a few other individuals that I had been talking to regularly come over to our tent and they sit down. You can feel it.

They’re like, “We have to stop for today. The heat wave is coming, and we can’t make any guarantees about what this weekend is going to bring. If Andrew is smart, and he stays near water, and he does not move—which is the exact opposite of what he has been doing up to this point—he could survive the heat wave. It’s going to be like—112 it peaked that weekend. If he plays his cards right, he’ll be fine. He’ll be in rough shape. Then he’ll be fine, but what’s most likely to happen is that he is going to die this weekend. And we’re so sorry we didn’t find him before this weekend.”

So I’m just sitting there, and it’s when you feel such intense emotions, and they start to wash over you, they start to push through you. And they start to be this waterfall and tide inside of you, but eventually the water settles, and it calms, and it goes flat. So they told me because he’s probably going to die this weekend, when we pick up search next week, whether it’s Sunday or Monday, we’re going to go into recovery mode. That’s when you bring in the units that specialize in finding dead bodies instead of live persons. And I just shut off. I remember looking out at the trees and I remember getting up from the table and I remember just like walking about where my friend could see me, but just like amongst the board.

And I remember the spirituality of that moment. I remember breathing, I remember studying, I remember touching trees and just asking for the woods to watch for Andrew. I remember the feelings of asking the forest to keep him safe.

Andrew: So my last-ditch effort was to go back up, and my thinking was that all of the scenic spots are at the top of the mountain. And so I have a higher chance of running into other trails as like the cone eventually gets smaller. The next morning, when I woke up, I started the I’m a sense backup. Also at this point there was a Seattle heat wave.

It just seemed like it sapped the energy out of me, so I was just trying to dash from shade to shade. I was able to walk in the early morning, and then I had to find some sort of shade to ride out noon to 3 p.m. I guess if your thoughts are like 60 miles per hour normally, I was dwindling down to like maybe 15 to 20.

When I initially started my goal, the things helping me through were thinking of my dog or thinking of my girlfriend or thinking of my family back home, my brother. But these days, 5, 6, 7ish, whatever, I remember I’m crumbling multiple times, like at least 30 to 40 times. I would walk forward, and I would crumble, and I would just run out of energy. I would just fall against my backpack, and I would maybe pass out like 5 to 10 minutes.

And I remember like feeling like if it was a video game, like I just died and I have to press retry. I had to tell myself to get up every single time. Pain became not real because it was like accepting that I was going to die anyways or that I probably was. I was like, I’m not going to feel any pain when I’m dead.

So I don’t really care that this hurts. I want to see one more view or one more tree. Roughly around like night, eight or night, probably day 7 or 8. Even my dad voice was like losing his fight, and it was like, “I don’t know if we’re gonna make it outta here.”

And they were just like talking to each other because I didn’t want to be alone. I found out that my fear is actually dying alone. This is if I’m alone, nobody can laugh at my jokes. I remember falling asleep, and there was something that I heard that said “Rest for tomorrow’s salvation.” And that I’ve never heard before. “What? Did you hear that?” “Yeah, I heard that.” “Guess we’re going to bed.”

The next day, I guess I just expected a helicopter to airlift me out of there. It didn’t. I still had to walk and crawl and all that, but I somehow ended up finding a log. And when I climbed this log and I looked around and there was acorns. And acorns were on the trails.

There’s acorns in some spots that you’re supposed to follow, and I realized that this was the exact same trail that I had gotten lost on. I just screamed, “I made it!” I screamed really loud. And I remember that voice that said “Rest for tomorrow’s salvation” said: “I made you a storyteller. Here are your stories.”

I knew that at the end of this trail was my car. I was just crumbling, and I was just falling and I was no energy. And suddenly I just felt like my battery was back at like at least 40 percent. And I was just walking, and I was singing along to myself and the Rocky music started playing.

Louisa: But he was still eight days into his ordeal, injured and operating on virtually no food. Sapped of energy, Andrew decided to rest for the night and hike the last mile out in the morning.

Andrew: I woke up the next morning to these two hiker bros. They absolutely looked like they had their stuff together. They had like the survival watch. And they had snacks for days. And they were just too in shape and they were just like, “Hey, what’s up? What’s going on, man? Do you need some help?” And they were just so kind. At this point, I was only a mile and a half away from my car. Like I was going to make it myself. But when two hiker bros say that they’re going to get you some help, it’s a little bit easier to just sit down and wait.

Louisa: Krysteena had passed the weekend in a motel-bound blur. A week had passed since she’d seen Andrew last. Reluctantly, she started to consider funeral plans.

Krysteena: I remember just staying up late. Cause I’m like, “Yo, what am I going to do?” I went to bed at like 4 or 5 in the morning. And then I woke up at 11 in the morning. I didn’t know, but at 6 in the morning I got a text message from just a random number. It was like, “Hi, I’m just a dude who was hiking with my friend, and I recognized Andrew from the news. And I contacted search and rescue.” He survived the heat wave! Oh my God. He did it. They found him, someone found him. Andrew found himself. He’s alive.

Andrew: There was a stretcher thing that they were able to carry me down with the rest of the trail. And I had made it out. When I got to the hospital, the only physical lasting injury that I had was my knee muscle. It had completely deteriorated, but there were no broken bones and no lasting permanent effects. But I had made it on the exact same trail that I got lost on. My friends just made a really good guess.

Louisa: ​Thanks to the Andrew’s Squad, hundreds of volunteers, and his own perseverance, Andrew made it to safety where he finally got to reunite with Krysteena.

Andrew: She absolutely had a “play it cool, not freaking out” face in person. She was crying, and I’m like, “Oh my gosh, I’m so thankful for you.” I expected her to be angry and disappointed, and all sorts of upset. It was nothing but love and care and compassion.

Krysteena: Even when the professionals were like, “He’s going to die.” We were all like, “Nah, not, Andrew.” He’s got too much power, too much spite, too much gumption. There’s just something about him. That’s what I find so charming, and why I love him, you know?

Andrew: She was just everything that I needed. Really patient and really supportive, and obviously a bunch of tears.

Louisa: After surviving his nine-day ordeal. Andrew finally liked himself enough to picture a future with the love of his life, and that future was looking a lot brighter than his past.

Andrew: Since all of this, my dreams have turned into written-down plans and ideas in notebooks.

I have a higher sense of self worth. This is not the confidence I had two years ago. Now that summer’s hitting, and I’m seeing everything, it’s starting to remind me of the second part of that experience, which was the joy of life and the fact that this is all gorgeous, and I can do it. This has given me such like a different view of like myself, my brain, and my body. I’m absolutely going to be hiking more, and probably more than hiking, too.

Louisa: This episode was produced and written by Zoe Gates, along with me Louisa Albanese and Emma Veidt. This episode was sound designed and scored by Jason Patton. Thank you to Andrew Devers and Krysteena Mann for sharing your story with us.

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