25 year old hiker, Kaden Laga, got lost for five days after a horseback-riding trip went wrong. In the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness on the border of Idaho and Montana, the horse that Laga’s brother was riding went lame. Since Laga was the best hiker of the group, he offered his horse to his brother and decided to walk.
Laga ventured ahead of the team towards the beginning of the trail but he took a wrong turn and was soon lost.
Prior to starting the trip, Arden – Laga’s pregnant wife – said to her husband, “you better promise me that you come home safe”.
The reason driving him to push on
With the thought of his family inspiring him to get back to civilization, Laga survived by drinking water from streams and eating crickets and berries. One of the nights had such low temperatures that he didn’t see himself making it out alive. Worried that he’d never get the chance to be by his family again, Laga wrote a note on his phone: “In case I don’t make it out of here, I love you. I’ve loved my life with you, and I’m so sorry I left you to be a single mom.”
Laga’s family established a center of operation at his parents’ house in Montana. The team that was looking for him used search dogs, thermal imaging, and helicopters. One day, Laga happened to spot the search helicopters flying over him.
“I’m like, ‘this is it. They’re going to get me’, and they just take off in the other direction,” said Laga.
Once the realization set in that the search team hadn’t seen him, Laga recognized that it would be his own efforts that would get him out alive. Fortunately, a headlamp was left on by one of the rescuers while they were sleeping one night, which drew Laga to the campsite at around 1 am Friday.
“I really hope the takeaway isn’t that I’ve done this amazing thing,” said Laga. “I was very gifted, blessed, protected. As much as a lot of things went wrong, there were a lot of key things that went right.”
“Kaden (and I) have been resting and reconnecting since returning and he’s doing great,” Arden said in a Facebook post. “We are expecting some physical and emotional abnormalities to start showing up in the next few days. We had planned a trip to Hawaii 4 months ago that we are still planning to take to help us rest, reconnect, and take things easy.”