Joshua McClatchy didn’t expect the ants to be the problem.
ATexas hiker who went missing for six days is now sharing details of his time in the Arkansas woods and how he survived before being rescued last Friday.
“When it comes to the wildlife, I learned very quickly that the ants were my nemesis,” McClatchy told “Good Morning America” in an interview Friday. “Ants that were an inch long, the stinger as large as the head.”
McClatchy, 38, had been hiking in the Caney Creek Wilderness on June 1 when he lost track of the trail. He texted his mother but couldn’t connect with her because of bad cell phone service.
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His mother reported him missing that day, and he made his way to a mountaintop with hopes that the elevation would help him be seen.
“I immediately got swarmed by ants, so I dropped everything and got out of there,” he told “GMA.” “When I say I got out of there, I was around the general area, just trying to avoid the ants.”
Long sleeves helped, too, he said.
“That first night I learned to tuck everything in, so I had my wool socks and had my pants tucked in to my wool socks. I had long sleeves, I tucked everything in. It could have been much worse,” he added.
And then there was the fear that set in from the threat of bears.
“I didn’t see the black bears out there when I was stranded, but I heard them almost every night,” he told ABC affiliate WFAA-TV.
The second day in the wilderness, McClatchy celebrated his birthday. The hike was supposed to be a way from him to celebrate the day.
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“I wasn’t anticipating on being stranded; there’s no way I could have anticipated being stranded,” he added.
On the third day, he heard people shouting his name. He yelled back, but they couldn’t hear him with the echo of the mountains. Eventually, the voices quieted and no one responded.
“Even though I wasn’t eating and drinking, it was probably more mental than physical,” McClatchy, who has bipolar disorder and didn’t have medication with him, told WFAA-TV.
He followed streams to have a source of water but food was hard to come by.
It was on June 7, almost a week after he first lost the trail, when McClatchy heard the sounds of helicopter blades after he climbed to the top of a ridge. “That’s a moment I’ll never forget,” he told WFAA-TV.
McClatchy was rescued soon after, and a crew brought him out of the woods on a stretcher. Amazingly, he suffered from only dehydration and a minor cut to his head.
“I’m in one of the best spots mentally that I’ve been in for a long time,” he said. “My outlook is so different now, I’m so grateful.”
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