When Garrett Hunter, 13, returned from a bathroom break Saturday morning on a Wyoming hike, his Boy Scout troop out of Draper, Utah, was nowhere to be seen, reported KSL-TV.
“Of course, I panicked,” Garrett told the station. He ditched his tent to lighten his load and began hiking up a mountain.
Searchers began looking for Garrett in the Wind River area of Wyoming after his troop reported him missing at the end of its multi-day 50-mile hike Saturday afternoon, according to The Deseret News.
“He has some supplies with him, it’s not like he’s out there without anything,” Sgt. Travis Bingham of the Sublette County Sheriff’s Department told KSTU. “He has some food and some water and some gear. The area is rough but the temperatures aren’t really cold at night yet so it’s not really a race against time.”
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Authorities were concerned, however, that Garrett might not approach searchers for help, reported the station. He has been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a developmental disorder related to autism.
As night fell, Garrett began to wonder if he’d ever be rescued, reported KSL-TV. He had his backpack and sleeping bag, along with a water filter he used to drink from streams. Snacking on ants and bark helped him stave off hunger as he tried to make his food last longer.
“It was my first time tasting bugs,” he told the station. “They actually weren’t so bad.”
Bingham told The Associated Press that Garrett faced other challenges.
“He had trouble starting a fire with the fire starters staying lit,” Bingham said. “He improvised, using bug spray with his lighter even though his mom told him not to and did get a fire that one night.”
More volunteers, including Garrett’s family and fellow church members, turned out Sunday to help with the search, reported The Deseret News.
Searchers setting up camp for the night found Garrett at 10:15 p.m. Sunday about a mile from his troop’s last campsite, reported The Salt Lake Tribune.
He was found on a ledge overlooking a lake, where he’d stopped to wait for rescue, Bingham told The Associated Press.
“It was really great,” Garrett told KSL-TV. “Like, hallelujah, I’m home free! They were so happy to see me, like they said it was a miracle that they found me.”
Searchers spent the night with Garrett, then hiked out with him Monday morning, reported The Salt Lake Tribune.