Lost hiker found near death after month long ordeal

Holy smokes. A hiker in Utah lost for a month, with little or no supplies and suffering from mental disability, was finally found this week, alive.

CNN— LaFever was hospitalized Friday in St. George, Utah, in stable condition. Family members told a deputy that he has autism and obsessive-compulsive disorder, said Becki Bronson, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office. The Colorado Springs, Colorado, man’s incredible odyssey began when he called his father on June 6 or 7 to tell him he was in Boulder, Utah, hiking with his dog, according to the sheriff’s office. LaFever said he had run out of money and someone had stolen some of his hiking gear. Authorities said they assumed he was given a ride to Boulder, as he did not have his own vehicle.

“He didn’t want me to come out there,” said LaFever’s father, John LaFever. “He wanted me to send him some money to get him to Page.” The elder LaFever said he wasn’t sure how William would make it all the way to Page, but his son mentioned following the river. Within a week of his call home, William got a ride to where Highway 12 crosses the river, and set out on his journey. The younger LaFever apparently did not know the extent of the rigors he would face when he planned to walk nearly 50 miles in the Escalante Desert to Lake Powell and then obtain a boat ride, officials said.

I was an avid rock climber for years and have spent a lot of time in one kind of wilderness or another. I never considered myself particularly good at finding my way around a new area and have been real turned around more than once. One of the scariest occurred on the way down from a route called Mainliner on Lumpy Ridge, right outside of Estes Park, CO.

We got so lost — in a late afternoon thunderstorm mind you — we ended up having to spend a night out there, on top of the ridge, sopping wet with no bivi gear, no real shoes, not even a decent long sleeve shirt. It was summer so we didn’t freeze to death, we had some food and water, but me and my buddy spent the night on very cold, very wet ground, listening to every snap and pop imagining lions and tigers and bears oh-my. We shivered through the night, at times pretty violently, thanks in part to our skin-tight lycra clothing and less than 10 percent body-fat honed climber physique. When dawn came we walked up onto some flat rocks and sunned ourselves like lizards. I cannot imagine living for a whole month out there even with the right gear.

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