It was a modern twist on the Hansel and Gretel fairy tale as a 9-year-old lost hiker who had been separated from his family on Saturday used techniques he saw on the television reality show "Man vs. Wild" to leave clues for searchers who eventually found the boy Sunday morning.
A trail of clues left by Grayson Wynne, who was lost in the woods in Daggett County overnight Saturday, led to his successful rescue Sunday morning by two searchers on horseback, said Karen Peterson Daggett County Sheriff's office spokeswoman.
Grayson, a resident of Heber City, became separated from his family while on a 4-mile hike to Daggett Lake Saturday afternoon.
"I was really scared," Grayson said Sunday night. "But 'Man vs. Wild' tells you how to survive all different terrains."
Searchers were called out Saturday evening, including the Daggett County Search and Rescue team, Uintah County sheriff's personnel and volunteers on horses, mules and on foot. Teams searched through the night without success and were joined Sunday morning by a Utah Department of Public Safety helicopter and a Daggett County bloodhound team.
Using survival strategies shown in the show, Grayson said he tied pieces of his rain parka to trees as he hiked hoping they would help someone find him more easily.
Grayson's mother, Kimberly Wynne, said her son had been hiking back to the family's camper with a cousin when he fell behind and strayed onto a different trail. When family members noticed Grayson was missing, they began a search, but once dusk neared they contacted emergency personal for help.
"I climbed a pine tree to see if I could see anyone, but I didn't," Grayson said. "So I just kept following the river."
In a statement released Sunday, Peterson said the first clue in the search — a granola bar wrapper — was found Saturday night about 300 yards from the trail the family had been hiking. Early Sunday morning, a small footprint was discovered near a creek about 400 yards from the spot where the wrapper was discovered. Farther up the stream, searchers found the black backpack the boy had been carrying.
Kimberly Wynne said that when rescuers found the backpack, she and her husband were devastated.
"He had his sleeping bag, snacks and an extra jacket in his backpack," Kimberly said. "It was cold out and we worried how he'd manage without it."
Peterson said the boy, who had spent the night under a log, had cold, wet feet but was in good health and spirits when found.
Search teams concluded the boy was following the creek based on the layout of items they found and concentrated efforts on that area. Two searchers on horses, Dave Potter and Rusty Burnside of McKinnon, Wyo., found Grayson at around 10 a.m. in a meadow near the stream. He was waving strips he had torn from a yellow rain slicker hoping to get the attention of the helicopter he heard flying overhead.
"I'm just very humbled," Kimberly Wynne said. "There were times I was worried Grayson wouldn't make it and I wouldn't ever see him again, and I'm just humbled that I can."
"I was just really happy to see the horses. I missed my parents a lot," Grayson said. "I almost broke into tears when I saw them, but I didn't."
When Grayson was reunited with his father, he greeted him with the words, "Happy Father's Day."