RAIN Foran's six-day hiking ordeal ended with a hug and a promise to his father Tim to never again tackle the treacherous cliff faces of the Bellinger River National Park, in torrential downpours.
Reunited at the Bellingen State Emergency Service headquarters on Thursday night, the relieved father greeted his son with some firm advice.
Grabbing him tightly in a bear hug, Tim said “Rim of the World” of all places . . . you smell like smoke and bush.
Rain, 25, an experienced hiker was feared lost for three days in the rugged wilderness with his bushwalking mate Howard Higgs, 41, of Sydney.
A three-day ground search was mounted, after the men failed to complete the weekend trek between Ebor and Thora by Monday night.
Initially the men were planning to take the less challenging Point Lookout trail, but instead tackled the unforgiving 'Rim of the World' - a mountainous hike of steep cliffs and ravines.
As the Westpac Rescue Helicopter took to the skies on Thursday, the pair were found safe and well by mates near Wood's Camp.
“We need to say thankyou and apologise to the rescue party, the SES volunteers, police and friends and family who spent three days looking for us,” Rain said.
“We really appreciate everyone out there having a look for us and not giving up.
“We weren't hurt or injured, we just didn't anticipate it would take that long.
“Steep ridges, waterfalls which weren't on the map all those type of things threw a spanner in the works, but we are lucky to have come out alive that's the main thing.
“Avoiding danger is what took so much time on the journey.
“We'd go down the creek and then get to a water fall and next thing there's a big steep cliff face and we had to go right around it.
“There were almost half a day treks just to avoid one waterfall.
“I knew we'd be running behind schedule.
Torrential rain, howling winds and seven degree nights made the trek more of a case of men versus wild.
The wearied hikers relied on bush survival after their food ran out after three days sourcing crayfish, lilly-pillies and sandpaper figs as bush tucker.
“The most stressful thing was knowing everyone would be worried about us, we couldn't sleep knowing that.
“The worse thing would have been if someone had of got hurt looking for us that played on our minds.
Back home to a hot shower and a warm bed, Rain spent yesterday wading through the 58 texts and 37 voice mail messages left on his mobile.
“I'm really keen to get a bit of extra time off work and get back out there and do another one, but I'll put a longer deadline on it this time,” he said.
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