Rescued hikers took shortcut, got lost, ran out of food

One of the men said he had been without food for five days, and didn’t think he’d survive much longer.

DARRINGTON — Search and rescue teams found two famished hikers Wednesday afternoon near Sulphur Creek, five days after they were expected to come back from the wilderness, according to the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office.

A helicopter from the King County Sheriff’s Office spotted David James, 59, around 2 p.m. He was airlifted to Cascade Valley Hospital in Arlington, where he was treated for dehydration. Marshall “Buster” Cabe, 64, was found about an hour later. He was flown out and then taken home.

The two Snohomish County men had left together on Downey Creek Trail east of Darrington on Aug. 16, and were due back Friday. Family members called 911 Monday to report the men missing. They had food and supplies to last a week and family members believed their intended route was to take Downey Creek Trail to Bachelor Creek to Cub Lake. The idea was to go fishing at nearby Itswoot Lake.

The route would have been strenuous, requiring steep ascents, creek crossings and bushwhacking.

James told rescuers that they took a shortcut off-trail and got turned around. They ran out of food and spent about five days subsisting off mushrooms and berries. James reportedly said he didn’t think he’d survive another 24 hours when he was found.

They split up sometime Tuesday, when James and Cabe decided on different approaches, said Shari Ireton, a sheriff’s office spokesperson. One went down closer to the river, while the other stayed up higher. Somehow, they ended up near Sulphur Creek.

Ireton said the two men did the right thing by telling family members their plan ahead of time, and that family members did the right thing by calling 911.

“They got us on the right track in the right area, and that gave us a huge advantage in terms of finding them,” she said.

It’s not the first time Cabe has met danger in the area. According to a 1969 article in The Daily Herald, he had made the same trip half a century ago, when he was 14. He told a reporter that he and his friend saw three abominable snowmen, over 10 feet tall, near Cub Lake. The mysterious creatures chased them for nearly a mile, Cabe said at the time.

A copy of the story was posted on The Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization’s website.

Zachariah Bryan: 425-339-3431; Twitter: @zachariahtb.

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