Rescued Hiker Recalls Eating Dirt, Hallucinating During 5-Day Ordeal In Trabuco Canyon
ORANGE (CBSLA.com) — The 18-year-old hiker who got lost with her friend in Trabuco Canyon in Orange County last weekend said she doesn’t remember much and hallucinated most of the time during her five-day ordeal.
Kyndall Jack and Nicolas Cendoya, 19, only planned on being out for a few hours on Easter Sunday in the Cleveland National Forest, said Jack at a news conference Monday outside UC Irvine Medical Center where she was recovering from frostbite on her left hand and swelling, cuts and bruises on her legs.
“We wanted to touch the clouds,” said Jack. “We just wanted to go on a hike and we weren’t doing anything, so we searched for a place to hike around the area and we went off trail.”
The Costa Mesa teen, who only had a backpack with a cellphone, glasses and a wallet inside, said the pair went off the popular Holy Jim Trail because it seemed like fun.
“We just saw a good place and we were like, ‘Oh, we’re just gonna scale the mountain here,’” she said.
Jack and Cendoya decided to call 911 on a dying cellphone once it got too dark.
“We just wanted to get to the top and we finally realized it was too dark for us to finish getting to the top,” said Jack.
During the emergency call, which was released Monday, Cendoya told the dispatcher, “I don’t even know if we’re going to make it to the morning…because we have no water.”
“No, I understand that. We’re out there looking for you. We’re not going to stop looking for you. We just can’t have the chopper up because if they can’t see with the fog, they’ll crash,” replied the dispatcher.
Jack said, “I started to get an anxiety attack and I started throwing up. I just lost it. I went in and out of consciousness after we called 911.”
The young girl said the last thing she remembered was fighting off animals with Cendoya.
“Me and Nick talked about it and he remembered fighting off animals, too. Pretty sure they were real,” she said.
The teen said she didn’t even realize she was missing or that she was with her friend during her disappearance.
“I didn’t know I lost Nick. I didn’t even know I was with Nick. It was that bad. I don’t remember….I honestly didn’t even know I was missing. I didn’t know I was gone. I didn’t know anything was going on. I just thought I was in a big dream and there were lots of different aspects of the dream that played a part,” she said.
Jack continued, “I don’t remember drinking anything. I know I ate dirt. I tried to eat some dirt and rocks. I came to the hospital with a big mouthful of dirt. That was all I remember.”
She said she recalled hallucinating “a lot.”
“My parents were in jail half the time. In my mind. I was searching for my little sister. I was getting eaten by a python. Nick saw the tigers…and I was getting eaten by a python half the time,” said Jack.
Meantime, dozens of crews were searching for the pair for days.
Cendoya was found on Trabuco Creek Road last Wednesday when a rescuer heard him call out. He was released from Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo Sunday.
Jack was rescued Thursday when searchers heard her cries for help.
“I remember people yelling my name. And I told them to shut up and that I was running out of air, so I didn’t want to reply to them. Earlier I was hallucinating people calling my name and I thought it was all a big joke,” she said.
Jack said she met up with Cendoya on Sunday to figure out what happened.
“We both basically told each other that we were in different dreams and that we didn’t even know anything was going on. We had no idea we were missing,” she said.
While Cendoya wants to go back to the mountains to conquer his fears, Jack said she has no plans on doing that.
She did, however, offer advice to potential hikers.
“Just stay on the trail. We didn’t stay on the trail and that’s why we got lost. Bring lots of water. I told Nick we should bring a flashlight and we should have because that would have been a lot of help,” said Jack.