OCEANSIDE - Three San Diego County men who disappeared last weekend while hiking in the San Bernardino-area back country turned up Tuesday -- cold, tired and a bit scuffed up by their ordeal, but otherwise in good condition.
They then shared an emotional reunion with their families.
Deputies aboard a sheriff's patrol helicopter found Miguel De La Torre and Ryan Shankles of Oceanside and David Yoder of Carlsbad about 10:15 a.m. in Northfork Meadows, near Mineshaft Campground.
The trio had heard the aircraft Monday and made their way to a clearing in hopes that they would be spotted from above, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.
The men, described as experienced hikers, had disappeared Sunday morning as an unseasonably cold storm dropped snow on the region's highest elevations.
A friend who started the trek but turned back reported that the group had spent Friday night at Heart Bar Campground. On Saturday, they drove to a trailhead, planning to climb to the top of 11,503-foot Mount San Gorgonio, the tallest peak in Southern California.
The men were training for a mission trip through their church.
"Where we go to places and try to help orphanages and churches and community centers and this is part of our training," said Shankles.
In addition to airborne personnel, ground crews, including some on horseback and others with scenting dogs, combed the wilderness for the missing hikers. They failed to find any sign of them on Sunday, and the effort was suspended until shortly after sunrise Monday.
When found about six miles from a command post set up for the search, the men had some cuts and scrapes, and one of them apparently had been on the verge of hypothermia, but they otherwise were healthy and did not require hospitalization, officials said.
They brought a religious banner to place at the mountaintop, but they never got there. They turned to the banner when temperatures dropped to almost freezing.
"The first night we were able to put banner over us and keep us warm," said Yoder.
They trio told news crews they also huddled together to stay warm.
Amazingly, all three say they cannot wait to start training again, much to Shankles' sister's dismay.
"Don't ever do that again," she said.
"We didn't plan it," Shankles said.