This was the moment to know what really happened. Gene Penaflor said that he fell and struck his head. When he woke up later it was thick fog and he was disoriented. He tried to come back but it was not possible to recover the right way, so he decided to stop and stay near a water source. He was convinced that a rescue operation will be started but when a helicopter flew over the area he was unable to signal his presence and position.
During 19 days, Gene Penaflor survived eating squirrels and lizards and even a snake and some berries. During the nights he covered himself with leaves and grasses to keep dry and warm. He was an experienced man and this helped him to resist. Even though it was a very difficult period of his life, he was in a good condition when he was found. He had been airlifted to Ukiah Valley Medical Center.