Rescued hiker talks of hallucinations, fending off animals

Rescued hiker Kyndall Jack, 18, is wheeled to address the media during a press conference in front of UC Irvine Medical Center.
(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)

Days after her dramatic rescue from a brush-covered ledge, Kyndall Jack -- the 18-year-old hiker who was missing for four days -- said memories of her time lost in the south Orange County hills are fleeting, with only recollections of hallucinations, fending off animals and crying when she and her parents reunited.

“I honestly didn’t know I was missing,” she told reporters Monday outside UC Irvine Medical Center in Orange, from which she said she is being released later in the day.

“I didn’t know I was gone. I thought it was a dream.”

In front of the hospital, resting in a wheelchair with her hair pulled up and wearing a hooded gray sweatshirt and black sweatpants, she explained she had injured her hand during the ordeal. She held up her hand to demonstrate its limited mobility and lifted her sweatpants to show her left leg, covered in scrapes, cuts and bruises.


She said she was “still in a lot of pain, but it’s getting better.”

Jack and her friend, 19-year-old Nicolas Cendoya, went to the Holy Jim Canyon area on Easter Sunday for what was to be a day hike.

They became lost after they wandered from the trail and the darkness set in. The pair, she said, had only brought with them three small water bottles. She said she carried a backpack that had a lighter, her cellphone, glasses and keys.

After getting lost, she said she began having panic attacks and vomited. By the first evening, she said the two of them began hallucinating, presumably because of dehydration. At one point, she said she believed she was being attacked by a python.

When Cendoya was going in and out of consciousness, she said she was scared. “I told him not to close his eyes,” she said.

Her only memories from that point were fighting off an animal (she could not say what kind), trying to use her lighter to “light the sky” and signal for help, and finding her way to the rock where she nested herself until she was found.

She said she was grateful for those who rescued her and hoped to thank them in person. They offered the help, she said, she feared would not come.

“I definitely gave up hope,” she said. “ There were definitely sometimes I didn’t think I was going to make it.”

She said she has talked to Cendoya since the rescue, hoping to piece together their recollections, but the effort had proved futile.

“We told each other we were in different dreams,” she said.


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