Veteran hiker Nathan Mitchell has walked trails in Peru, Panama, and all over the Pacific Northwest. So, when Mitchell ventured into the Mt. Hood wilderness for a solo hike, his family expected him to return safely. The weather, however, had other plans: wind and rain forced Mitchell to seek shelter and attempt a retreat to his car. Ultimately, he was forced to spend the night on a ridge above the Salmon River drainage.
When Mitchell woke, he couldn’t find the trail. “Mt Hood is a jungle,” the hiker’s father explained. “Once you get in there you can get disoriented because everything looks the same.” For the next five days, Mitchell battled trench foot and fatigue while he waited for help to arrive.
It did arrive, in a big way. Over 100 volunteers joined Mitchell’s friends and family to comb the area around his vehicle. Becky, Mitchell’s sister, described the moment when rescuers finally located her missing brother: “We just ran as fast as we could,” she said. “We slid down the ravine. It really was a beautiful moment.”
In the wake of his ordeal, Mitchell displayed the resilience which carried him through four long, cold nights. “He walked out himself,” Becky explained. “He didn’t want to be carried.” Mitchell’s parents, meanwhile, felt joy and gratitude for the support they received while waiting for news about their son. His mother, Gay, summed up the family’s feelings about the reunion with Mitchell: “It truly is an amazing miracle.”