The forest here in Utah borders Ute lands. In the late 60s early 70s you could still run into Ute family's camping in the Uintas. Shayne the Brain's uncle was a Logger, knew many different people in the forest. He was also a scout master, he knew a old Ute that would teach the scouts basic tracking skills. He would hide and leave enough sign so the boys could track him, taught methods that he learned from his grandfather. This gentleman that trained the scouts was about 60 years old at this time, so do the math. [Which means his grandfather was a contemporary of Kit Carson.]
A 4-year-old kid came up missing on the Crystal Lake trailhead. His mother looked away for a few minutes, and he was gone. You know how fast a kid can travel, even a young child. This was during late spring, early summer, in the Uintas, snow in drifts, open ground in between. The kid had a hooded sweat shirt, bib overalls, leather, hightop red wing boots.
They started looking for this kid in the afternoon, found nothing. It got dark on them, so they used flashlights to search, calling the kid's name. The mother of the boy was frantic. Jonesy was working for the forest service cleaning trails, chainsaw work, removing trees for the backpackers. They requested all personnel to help in search the next morning. Jonesy talked to the mother, telling her they would find her child He asked her if her son was right or left handed. Humans have a tendency to circle in the direction of their strong side.
He started searching in the area that people had been tramping around on all night. After slowly searching the area, he noticed that a small hand had been picking up snow and eating it, leaving tiny fingers in the melting snow. He started looking for the imprints in the snow drifts. They led him on a zig zagging path. The kid was just enjoying himself,
eating snow as he wandered. The boy had traveled 3 miles before he realized that he was lost.
Jonsey could tell he was very close to the kid, finding fresh hand and footprints as he climbed a slope, into some old growth timber. He circled and never found tracks coming out from the patch of timber. He happened to see his shoe sticking out from under a old fur, that was rotting away on the forest floor. Fearing the boy had frozen, he grabbed the boot. The kid started kicking and screaming. After Jonesy got him calmed down, he asked the boy why he wandered off.
"I was looking for snow, following the birds," he said, "Where is my mom?"
The kid was hiding from the search party. They had scared the child. He was terrified of
strangers. They figured that between eating snow staying hydrated, and the hooded sweatshirt, plus temperature not dropping to far below freezing he was able to survive the night.