An 18 year-old boy, Austin Bohanan lived a unique life. He was an experienced outdoorsman and enjoyed spending time in nature either camping or hiking near his home in Tennessee. Austin would often hike in the national park in the Great Smoky Mountains with his stepfather. The two enjoy the outdoors and spending time together and this was a great way to combine both. The Great Smoky Mountains are a range of mountains located along the border of North Carolina and Tennessee. Most of the mountain range is protected by a national park where many tourists visit to go hiking, river tubing, and even skiing. The mountains are home to wildlife and a range of landscapes.
Austin and his stepfather had hiked the trail before and they were excited to get on the road and hike a trail in the park. The two were seasoned hikers and were very prepared when they headed out for a hike together in August. But their experience did not help they during this hiking trip. The hike turn a turn for the worse as Austin got separated from his stepfather.
Would Austin be able to navigate his way through the unforgiving terrain of the mountains and reunite with his stepfather? Read on to find out what happened to Austin and his stepfather.
Austin was ready to go out for hike in the Smoky Mountains along with his stepfather. The two loved the outdoors and had hiked the trail before and knew the route they would take. It was unsafe to go off the trail and both hikers knew that as they were experienced. The trouble for the two began when Austin’s stepfather’s glasses fell into a creek after he had tripped while walkin
Looking in the Creek
Austin knew they had to attempt to find the glasses as it would be difficult for his step dad to walk back home without them. They both got into the creek and started looking. Soon the two were off searching in different directions and getting further and further away from each other. After a short time of looking, Austin could not see his stepfather anymore and the two were separated.
Austin was gone
Without realizing that he had been separated from his son, Austin’s stepfather continued the search for his missing glasses and eventually found them in the creek. He put his glasses back on and could now see again.He was ready to continue the hike and looked for Austin who he thought had been near him the whole time. Soon after he discovered that his son was no longer by his side.
Calling for Austin
Once he realized Austin was not near him anymore, he began to panic. He started calling out for Austin but the two were far away from each other and Austin did not hearing anything back. Austin’s stepfather decided to go back to his car and hoped that Austin would think to do the same thing and make his way to the car. But when he returned to the car, Austin was nowhere to be found.
Searching for Austin
Austin’s stepfather returned home where there was also no sign of him. He told Austin’s mother what happened but they were not worried as they knew Austin had a lot of experience on the hiking trail. Austin’s mother and stepfather did not report him missing right away and decided to go looking for him themselves in the park as they knew the trail well.
Calling the ranger
They searched for two days and still had found no sign of him. They were beginning to be very worried and knew they could not keep searching by themselves. They reported Austin missing to the park rangers. On August 14th at 6:30, Austin was declared missing by the national park ranger. The rangers immediately set up a search for Austin who was alone in the woods. His parents hoped they would locate their son quickly.
Where was Austin?
Austin’s and the park ranger, Kloster, had no clues about where Austin could be as there seemed to be no trace of him. But they were confident that he was alive due to the fact that he knew the trail well and he was young and in shape. He was used to hiking and had not gotten lost before. They were sure that he would be able survive until they could find him.
In a press conference Kloster stated, “He was young. He was in shape. There was all kinds of water out there,” he continued, “The weather wasn’t, you know, 10 degrees below zero. If he was in those areas, I felt confident he was still alive.” Neither Austin’s parents or the park ranger had any idea that Austin was struggling to survive in the mountains.
Austin was used to being outdoors and the moment he realized that he was alone, he knew that he needed to find his way out. He was not scared as he knew a lot about the outdoors and was aware of survival tactics if he were to ever get lost. Austin knew that if he got emotional or panicked, he would not be able to make it out of the situation he now found himself in.
Hiking to higher ground
Austin knew first thing he had to do in order to find his way out was to get to higher ground. He got out of the creek and hiked to the top of a ridge. He decided that the best thing would be to call home and tell his parents he was lost so they would know that he was ok and that they would notify the park ranger. However, Austin was deep inside the woods and his cellphone did not have a signal.
Sleeping in the forest
It was getting dark and Austin knew that it would not be safe for him to try and find his way out of the forest at night. He knew that he conserve his energy and stay safe. Walking around the forest at night would be unsafe and might have caused him to get even more lost. There were also wild animals in the forest and Austin did not was to expose himself to them.
Continuing the next day
Austin decided to stay in one place for the night and he planned that he would continue on when it was light outside. He slept on the ridge for the night and continued to try and find his way out the next morning. Austin found a stream and decided to follow the water knowing that it would take him back to the creek where his stepfather had lost his glasses. Unfortunately there was a problem….
Praying to get out
Austin was starting to get worried and wondering if he would be able to find his way back home but he understood that he would put himself at risk if he just sat and waited until someone came to find him. He know he had to keep going and find fresh water. He continued to spend night after night in the forest and kept praying that he would soon find his way out.
The Smoky Mountains
Austin had a big challenge ahead of him as the forest he was lost in was massive and he knew it would be very difficult for him to found a way out. The forest covers over 180,00 acres of land and there had recently been wildfires in the forest. It was an expansive area that the rescuers had to search and there seemed to be no sign of Austin anywhere.
Dealing with hunger
Although he had access to freshwater, Austin did not have any food in his bag and he was getting hungrier with everyday that passed. If he did not have access to food, he would lose energy and put himself in an even less safe situation. For the first couple days of his endeavor, Austin was focused on finding a way out and he was not thinking about food but now the hunger was taking over.
While Austin was trying to survive on his own, the park rangers and many crews were out in huge numbers looking for Austin. Austin was constantly on the move and the crews could not find him. They either just missed him or were ahead of him during their search. Austin had already been missing for a few days and search crews knew that it was a desperate situation. But the days quickly turned into a week.
Boats and helicopters
Not only were there groups searching for Austin on foot but there were also helicopters and boats out searching for the teen. Austin could hear the helicopters and knew there were people looking for him but they could not see him through the trees and he could not signal to them. After 11 days of living in the forest, Austin saw kayaks as well as a boat in the river.
Austin is rescued
Austin recalled, “Luckily I saw a boat, a guy and his daughter.” He needed to get their attention as they could not see him. “I waved them down and hollered at them…” The man in the boat eventually saw him and asked Austin if he was the boy everyone had been looking for to which Austin replied, “Yes sir, I guess so.” Austin was finally rescued after spending eleven days in the national park.
He was found
As soon as he was located, the authorities were alerted and a rescue team came to get him and transport him to the hospital. After nearly two weeks surviving by himself in the forest Austin had finally been found and he was ready to leave and go home. However, there was concern about his health because Austin had not eaten in 11 days and needed to receive medical attention to ensure that he was okay.
Takent to the hospital
As soon as Austin was found, he was taken to a hospital in Tennessee where they conducted a full physical exam. He had not eaten is so long and his body was weak after so many days of walking and searching for a way out of the woods. Besides the fact that he had lost weight, Austin was healthy and was ready to be reunited with his family who were ecstatic at hearing the news that he was found alive.
Once Austin’s family was notified that he was found, they immediately rushed to the hospital to see him. His father Ryan recalled, “I just locked eyes on him, grabbed him, hugged him; both of us started crying,” he continued “It was a moment I’ll never forget.” Everyone was very relieved and happy to see that Austin was safe and they could not wait to get him back home. The search for Austin was successful.
He was about to give up
Austin was very lucky that he had found rescuers on the day he did as his condition was getting worse but the day. He later revealed that the 11th day of the ordeal was the day he wanted to give up. He remembered how hungry he was after not eating for such a long time and admitted that he was considering eating bugs in order to survive. Austin was fortunate that he had survived his ordeal.
Austin was prepared
Many were amazed by the fact that an 18 year-old was able to survive on his on in the woods for so long without food. This is especially true today as so many teens are reliant on their smart phones and technology to do even simple tasks. Austin’s ability to remain calm and use his logic was something unique for a person his age and it was the reason he survived.
Thankfully Austin was an experienced hiker and had learned what to do if a situation like this were to arise. He was able to keep his composure and his knowledge about the wilderness to survive. Austin’s parents taught him useful information and skills about what to do if he was ever lost in the forest and it proved to be very useful. Austin showed a lot of courage during the 11 days he was lost and he is happy to be back home with his family.