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‘I didn’t think I was going to make it’: Missing hiker, dog found safe

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NORDEN, Calif. -- A rescue crew spotted a missing hiker Thursday, days after the man and his dog went missing in a mountainous area in California.

Cody Michael was found "alive and well," the Placer County Sheriff's Office confirmed late Thursday morning.

Michael and his dog were reported missing Monday after they didn't return from a hike around the Loch Leven trail in the Sierra Nevada.

The two were found in the Cherry Point area by helicopter search crews, according to KTXL. They were brought back to camp via helicopter before Michael was taken to a hospital in Roseville.

Cody Michael, at his home Thursday afternoon after being released from the hospital, said, "Five hours or so ago, I didn't think I was going to make it. I really didn't. This is all I wanted, was to see my family again," he said.

His family had been worrying since Monday night. Thursday afternoon, they held a welcome home party for him.

"It was unbelievable to cast eyes on him. And to have that unbelievable father and son moment," Cody's father, Howard Michael, said.

Rescuers described Michael as being "fine and dandy" and uninjured, but he will still be checked out by doctors.

Michael's dog, Bauer, was said to be safe and healthy, too.

The pair walked so far trying to get home that the pads on Bauer's feet became painfully worn. Bauer was taken to the vet after their. But neither he nor Cody were seriously or permanently injured.

"Every morning I got up and just thought I would figure a way and I didn't. And he couldn't really go anymore. That's when I just set up camp and figured they're going to come get me or I'm not going to make it."

A photo posted by the Placer County Sheriff's Office shows the word "HELP" written in duct tape on a rock about a mile north of where the American River and Big Granite Creek connect.

No story about Cody or his family would be accurate without acknowledging their deep faith in God. When snow cover on the trail Cody was hiking caused him to lose his way, that's when he says he started praying. His family started praying too.

And they're thankful that those prayers were answered,  thankful too for the 60 men and women who made up the search party that brought him back.

"All those units that were out there -- the countless hours. You saved my life. I truly can't say thank you enough," Cody Michael said.