Teen hikers found safe after cold, wet nights in Ore. wilderness

Teen hikers found safe after cold, wet nights in Ore. wilderness »Play Video
Bradley Nelson (far left) and Jackson Chandler (far right) spoke with reporters Monday afternoon with their church youth leader Jim Hanchett (center).

MOLALLA, Ore. - Two teens who spent a couple of unplanned nights in the wilderness east of Salem were found safe Monday afternoon.

Jackson Chandler, 17, and Bradley Nelson, 16, left to go for a day hike in the Table Rock Wilderness area Saturday afternoon and did not return. About 50 people searched for them on Monday, aided by an Oregon Army National Guard helicopter.

"We planned on just going up past a logging road past where we parked, and then just popping up to the ridge real quick and coming back real quick, but we got up to the top of the ridge, and when we tried to come back we ended up going the wrong direction," Chandler said.

"I was definitely concerned. I didn't want to be spending the night out there."

A Clackamas County Sheriff's spokesperson said the pair did not need medical attention after they were found at about 2 p.m.

"It was hard, and we were cold, but we managed not to get hurt and just kept walking," said Nelson.

The boys said they found a tree that was keeping the ground relatively dry and slept under it Saturday night.

They were found about an hour from the search command post. Both boys said they were thankful for everyone involved in the search effort.

"Thank you to everyone who put all the effort in to find us," Nelson said. "It's good to be home."

A private citizen found the two teens and picked them up in his car.

Both Chandler and Nelson attend West Linn High School.

Both boys are Life Scout rank in the Boy Scouts, have multiple outdoor and survival skill merit badges and are working on becoming Eagle Scouts, a family spokesperson said. It was their first hike into the Table Rock area, a remote, rugged wilderness area east of Salem.

Hunters found the boys' truck Sunday afternoon along the side of the road near the Lost Creek Meadow area about five miles east of the Table Rock Wilderness area.

The boys were found north of Bagby Hot Springs, approximately 7 miles from the truck's location.

They had a compass, knives and a stove. Nelson said they used the stove to try to stay warm in the cold.

The boys did not have any food with them but said they drank plenty of water.

"We just had to keep telling ourselves to put one foot in front of the other," Chandler said. "Taco Bell isn't going to come to us."

KATU's Erica Nochlin contributed to this story.