It’s not every day that a teenage boy gets to muck around in the woods and act like he has the cunning stealth of a wild predator. So, when 15-year-old Ryle Gordon was asked to go on a father-son hunting trip with his stepdad, Chris Trumbich, he jumped at the chance! However, what started out as a hunt for woodland deer soon turned into a different kind of pursuit altogether.
The two men were on their last trail of the day when they spotted a single word scrawled in the mud – ‘HELP.’ Ryle and Chris were in the middle of nowhere and far outside of town, which is exactly how they liked their hunting trips to go. But, whoever wrote the plea must have felt pretty isolated and desperate in such surroundings, and sadly the message that was penned may have been found too late to do any good for the poor lost soul.
Ryle and Chris were driving towards their family cabin when they couldn’t help but notice the four big letters etched into the narrow dirt road. At first stepdad Chris thought it was just a strange communique between hunters about getting some help with moving deer carcasses, but he quickly changed his mind after realizing that it made no sense. Ryle, on the other hand, thought it was just plain creepy and snapped a photo on his smartphone.
Then it dawned on them. On the way up, the two men had passed by a search and rescue crew who were looking for a local 19-year-old from nearby Hayden, Idaho. Katie Ogle had gone missing two days prior, and she was the most likely culprit behind the plea for help.
Ryle and Chris immediately rushed back down the mountain to alert the authorities, and thankfully caught the departing rescue team just in the nick of time! The group was in the process of packing up for the night, but after Ryle showed them the picture he had taken, they chased down the new lead with renewed vigor.
It was imperative that they find Katie, who had the cognitive ability of an 11-year-old, and fast! The weather had taken a turn for the worse over the weekend, and the teen wasn’t wearing any shoes when she mysteriously walked away from her home. How she could have survived in the wilderness was anyone’s guess, but the longer Katie was out there alone, the less likely it was for her to be found with a happy ending.
After the team followed Ryle and Chris back to the scrawled message, one of the rescue workers yelled out a tentative “hello.” A faint response could be heard just over the ridge, and after group followed the voice down a steep hill, they finally found Katie lying in a sleeping bag next to a tree. Ryle told KFBB that the teenager seemed very frightened:
“She looked very scared when she came out, like she was scared she was going to get in trouble like we were going to yell at her for being in the cabin. Katie, if you’re watching this, we’re just happy you’re alive.”
In a twist of fate, it turns out that Ryle and Chris had actually helped save Katie long before they even knew she was missing. The sleeping bag she was found huddled in had actually come from their family cabin. Chris purposely leaves the door unlocked so that lost hunters can have access to emergency shelter and food. He’s happy that Katie made good use of the supplies, especially since it probably saved her life!