Tacoma mushroom hunters rescued after cold night in forest

Two Tacoma men started a fire with their backpack to stay warm overnight in the woods near Packwood after they became lost picking mushrooms, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

Rescuers from the sheriff’s office, Packwood Search and Rescue, and Lewis County ATV found the men Wednesday morning.

The 60- and 66-year-old men were reportedly experienced mushroom hunters who picked in the area off of Forest Service Road 4510 many times. They were with three others when they became lost.

Their picking partners reported them missing Tuesday when they did not return to the vehicle at nightfall as planned.

Searchers responded at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday and found the men about 8:45 a.m. according to the sheriff’s office.

The men — cold and wet but uninjured — were found less than a quarter mile from their vehicle.

They told rescuers they got turned around and decided to follow the stream downhill. The terrain in the area is often rugged and steep. They had cold weather gear and said they used their backpack to start a fire to stay warm.

“It is very easy for even experienced outdoorsmen to become disoriented and lost,” Sheriff Steve Mansfield said in a statement. “It is so important that anyone heading outdoors be prepared for an emergency.

“These men had matches, appropriate clothing, and were well prepared to deal with the elements. Proper preparation can often determine whether an outcome is positive or tragic.”