18-year-old Austin Bohanan is sharing his story after being lost in the woods by himself for 11 days. Austin was hiking with his stepfather when the two were separated and he found himself alone deep in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee.
“I was with my stepdad and we were hiking up in the mountains and following a trail most of the time,” Austin said. “He was in the middle of the creek and said he’d lost his glasses.”
The two were searching for the missing glasses since his stepfather could hardly see a thing without them. “[I] was trying to search a little bit,” Austin said. “I guess he went on a little bit, trying to find his lenses and I didn’t see him again after that.”
Austin tried to call and signal for his stepfather but was unsuccessful in reuniting with him. Luckily Austin is an avid and experienced hiker so he knew he needed to get to higher ground as soon as possible “I wasn’t scared or anything, I just knew that I had been separated and I needed to do something about it,” he said.
He proceeded to climb to the top of a tall ridge where he spent the night. The next day he set out and followed a stream to fresh water. Austin said that he knew he should keep moving and not stay stationary. “The main thing was just keeping my calm, keep my cool, just keep moving,” he said. “It’s just instinct, I guess, that came out. I prayed literally every night and day and it helped me drive forward.”
For 11 days Austin made his way through the wilderness. He searched for food the entire time but was unable to find any. “I did not eat anything,” he said. “I felt hungry the first couple of days and after that the hunger just kind of went away because I guess my brain figured it didn’t need to send that signal.”
While Austin was making his way through the woods there were more than 100 people searching for him. Rescuers searched the nearly 7,000-acre park searching for him using ground crews, air ops, helicopters, canine units, and boats. Luckily he was able to spot kayaks and a boat at the base of a mountain. “Luckily I saw a boat, a guy, and his daughter,” Austin said. “[I] waved them down [and] hollered at them and they were like ‘Hey I’m coming,’ and he asked if I was the one they’d been looking for and I said, ‘Yes sir, I guess so.'”
The boated quickly alerted authorities and they came quickly to retrieve Austin, praise God!
Please share this amazing survival story and thank God that he answered Austin’s prayers!