Before Utah-native, Kaden Laga went off on a horseback ride with his family; his pregnant wife made him promise that he would “come home safe.”
And so he did. Laga promised his wife, Arden, that he would come home from the ride safe and sound. However, five days after leaving on the three-day hike to the heart of the rugged Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, Laga still was not home.
While on the hike with this family, Fox 13 reports that one of the horses in the group went lame, which meant that the animal was unable to walk or keep up with the rest.
So the family decided it would be best to leave the horse near good grass and water, and come back for him later. According to ABC Fox Montana, Laga then volunteered to be the first one to hike back on foot:
“I’m a pretty strong hiker. I was a bit wet already. I volunteered to hike out first.”
It was shortly thereafter, around 7 p.m., that the soon-to-be dad realized he took a wrong turn and was lost.
There were times, especially the first night he was lost in the Montana woods, that the 25-year-old didn’t think he was going to live to see the birth of his child. He wrote a note to his wife as a result. He told Fox 13:
“I wrote a little text in case they found my body cold. I just said, ‘In case I don’t make it out of here, I love you. I loved my life with you and I’m so sorry I left you to be a single mom.’”
Still, it was Arden and his unborn son that kept him moving.
Laga said during his trek to find help that he saw helicopters flying overhead that he thought were there to save him. He soon realized, as the helicopters headed in other directions, that they couldn’t see him on the ground below and continued on foot, hoping he would soon find safety.
Thankfully, after five days of surviving off of berries and bugs, Laga walked onto a campsite where a group of rescuers was staying. Laga told Fox 13 that it was a “miracle” that the first responders at the campsite decided to leave their headlight on while they slept:
“It’s a real tangible feeling that I felt every minute that I was lost. That I could feel people praying for me.”
And by Friday afternoon, August 16, Laga was reunited with his family and his wife; keeping the promise he made to her.
Following his return home, Arden took to a Facebook page to share the good news. She wrote:
My Kaden is finally home. He was cracking jokes the whole time and was so excited to take a shower, which was about an hour long.
She also revealed that the horse Laga was paired with had also been found.
And in their final Facebook update, Laga thanked those who continuously prayed for his safe return. He wrote, “Thank you again for your support and for supporting us as we try to shrink away from the limelight and heal from this traumatic but wonderful experience.”