One of two hikers rescued after several days lost in a Southern California national forest says he was so far gone during his ordeal that he thought he was in the afterlife and the firefighters who eventually found him were a hallucination. Nicolas Cendoya, 19, says he and friend Kyndall Jack ended up lost in an area surrounded by cliffs and sharp brush after an Easter Sunday hike in the Cleveland National Forest. With darkness falling and their water supply finished, they called an emergency operator, but the phone battery died during the call.
Cendoya, who was released from the hospital yesterday after being treated for dehydration and injuries, says he fell and hit his head during a desperate attempt to carry Jack to where he believed their car was. After that "I was in lucid dreams, lucid hallucinations, every single day," he tells the Los Angeles Times. He has no idea how he became separated from Jack, who was found stranded on a rocky outcrop. Cendoya—who says he has been in touch with Jack and can't wait to see her again—thanked all the people involved in the rescue effort, especially the sheriff's deputy who suffered a severe head injury after falling 60 feet down a hillside. (Read more hikers stories.)