Store employees remember hikers buying day pass

Just off Trabuco Canyon Road near the fire station, the wood-porched Trabuco Canyon General Store is an old-fashioned place that sells, among other things, chicken feed. And it smells like it. 

There, longtime canyon denizens followed the search for two Costa Mesa hikers who had been missing since Sunday from a tiny TV mounted from the ceiling. 

Russ Thompson, 75, sat perched in a busted, old chair tucked among snacks and supplies. 

He said his guesses about the fate of Kyndall Jack, 18, and Nicolas Cendoya, 19, were "totally wrong." He thought they'd been abducted. 

The trails in the area are "not that hard" but in the scrub-covered hills, he said there's a kind of lawlessness.

"It's one place you don't want to go up there alone," he said, "or get caught up there at night."  

He comes to the general store every morning to meet with the rest of the "chicken lips coffee club," he said pointing to a carved wooden sign bearing a cartoon picture of a bird with a plump pout. 

"I'm anxious to see what she has to say," he said of Jack. 

Store owner Steve Shounia, 55, said it's been a busy past couple days. This search, he said, was "most unusual." 

"Usually they find them the next day," he said. 

His daughter, Megan Shounia, 21 remembered selling the pair their "adventure" day pass to go hiking in the national forest area. She pulled out a receipt for $6.75 -- the day pass costs $5 and they bought a water bottle -- which Jack signed in unfussy script. 

The store's receipt machine is a day off, but they bought the pass just after 3 p.m. Sunday, according to the receipt. 

Megan Shounia said she sees a lot of young people -- couples in particular -- heading out to hike. She assumed Cendoya and Jack were a couple, but they weren't "lovey-dovey." 

She talked to them briefly and cautioned them about the rocky terrain, she said. 

"We get a lot of weird people here but they seemed like the normal ones."

When she heard they were rescued, her first thought was "I'm really excited. I'm glad they were found." 

She said the fact that they survived especially with just the one water bottle was "definitely a miracle." 

She said Cendoya was wearing a white tank and a hat and Jack was wearing a T-shirt -- some kind of V-neck maybe -- and a hat. 

"It's crazy to think about."

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