Hiking through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, ironically, isn’t what you might call a “walk in the park.” Dense spruce forests, high altitudes, and the blanket of fog that’s often present contribute to several lost hikers every year.
So obviously when a man was separated from his teenage stepson there in 2017, authorities launched a massive search and rescue mission. However, just before a shocking development in the search, park rangers feared they’d have to tell the missing teen hiker’s mother the truth.
Once he realized his stepdad was long gone, Austin — an avid camper — went into survival mode: “I wasn’t scared or anything,” he said. “I just knew that I had been separated and I needed to do something about it.”
“[I] waved them down [and] hollered at them,” Austin recalled. The boaters approached, and “asked if I was the one they’d been looking for. I said, ‘Yes sir, I guess so.’”
It’s incredible what Austin could do all on his own. Not many people could keep their cool in the wilderness like that.