Californian couple rescue lost hiker who survived two weeks on half a jar of salsa

View over Big Bear Lake, Southern California
(Image credit: Getty)

A lone hiker was rescued after spending two weeks stranded in the wilderness in Southern California, with only half a jar of salsa to sustain him. Allison Scott and her boyfriend Freddie Valdivia were camping near Big Bear Lake after Thanksgiving when they spotted a man in distress. 

"We were underneath a flight path and an airplane went by pretty low and we heard someone yelling for help," Scott said. As 4NBC reports, it took Scott and Valdivia half an hour of calling out to find the man, whose feet were in such bad shape after two weeks that he couldn't move. 

"He had a stick with a water bottle on it trying to signal. He couldn't walk. His feet were extremely swollen and infected just from walking so much, and possibly the cold where he was."

The man, identified only as Eric, had become lost and decided to set up a shelter under a flight path where he might have a chance of being spotted by a passing aircraft. Despite being unable to light a fire after losing his lighter, he seemed to be in good spirits and apologized for putting a damper on the couple's camping trip. ABC2 reports that he had been there two weeks, with only half a jar of salsa for sustenance. 

Staying in touch

Scott and Valdivia called emergency services after finding Eric, and a helicopter arrived to take him for medical treatment within 15 minutes. They are hoping to get in touch with him again once he's back on his feet.

"He said he doesn't have a cellphone," Scott said. "We have his landline phone and he said, 'Whenever you're in Oceanside, I'll take you out to dinner. Just give me a call."

When hiking alone, always make sure you let someone know where you are going, and when you expect to be back so they can alert emergency services if you're not back on time. Plan your route in advance, sticking to established trails and bearing in mind your own fitness and level of experience, and don't take shortcuts or detours.

For more advice, see our guide hiking alone: risks, benefits, and top tips.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.