Hiker Found by Creek After Being Stranded in the Wilderness for 5 Days

by Jennifer Shea

For five days, a Los Angeles hiker was lost in a stretch of the Angeles National Forest that suffered devastating wildfire damage last year, including the erasure of trail markers. But like a hard-core outdoorsman, the avid hiker and Eagle Scout made it out alive.

A Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office rescue team found George Null, 58, nearly a week after he got lost on a day hike, CBS Los Angeles reports. He turned up at the bottom of a canyon near a creek in a remote area of the forest.

“The area he was located was about 2,500 feet,” LASD Sgt. John Gilbert told CBS. “The mountaintop he came off of in order to get there is at approximately 8,000 feet. So over several days, he’s made a lot of progress downstream.”

Null showed an incredible resourcefulness and will to survive over the five days he was lost. He suffered scratches and blisters, but persevered despite increasingly long odds. In fact, when his rescuers airlifted him out of the canyon, he took a grinning selfie with them in the helicopter. Now that’s an Outsider.

Null’s sister, Rebecca Latta, told CBS that Null had gotten disoriented in an area scorched by the Bobcat fire last year. When he was finally found, in Bear Canyon, rescuers spotted him waving at them from the creek.

“He gave me a huge hug,” Latta said. “I think he’s so exhausted that I really think he doesn’t have a lot of words right now. And he’s a little bit delirious after five days of wandering around in the forest.”

Since Null was found, the Forestry Service has shut down the areas decimated by the fire that are missing trail markers. Their goal is to allow nature to heal and the trails to be fixed and restocked with signs. Forestry Service officials are asking prospective hikers to check with them before they set off on trails in Angeles National Forest, to make sure the trails the hikers plan to take are open and safe to hike.

Bobcat Fire Ravaged 115,800 Acres

The Bobcat fire began on Sept. 6, 2020 in Angeles National Forest, per NBC Los Angeles. By the time firefighters contained it a month later, it had torched 170 structures and burned 115,800 acres of land.

The historic Mount Wilson Observatory, located in the San Gabriel Mountains near Pasadena, miraculously survived the blaze. The wildfire came within 20 feet of the structure at one point.

According to NASA’s Earth Observatory, the Bobcat fire was one of the biggest fires on record for the Los Angeles area.