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East Bank of Big Hole River

The east bank of the Big Hole River is pictured in this photo taken in May 2015.

David McCumber photo

BUTTE – Search-and-rescue teams rescued a family of 10 from Lefors, Texas, after they got lost during a hike in the rugged mountains of southwestern Montana.

Beaverhead County Sheriff Franklin Kluesner said two boys, ages 13 and 14, hiked several miles for help June 19, two days after the family got lost in the mountains near Wisdom. The family was out of food and water by the 18th and resorted to drinking stream water.

The boys and a 41-year-old man caught frogs, cooked and ate them on morning of the 19th, and then headed for help. The man collapsed along the way, but the boys continued on.

"Their mission was to try to find help. ... It took a lot of fortitude for those two teenage boys to keep going. They were able to cover quite a lot of ground," Kluesner said.

A rancher spotted the boys shortly after 6 p.m., and searchers found the man about two hours later. He was weak, dehydrated and hungry. His wife and six other children were located about an hour after that. An emergency room doctor was with the final rescue group.

The entire family was sick from drinking unsafe water, said Undersheriff David Chase.

The couple had anticipated a hike similar to what they had experienced in Yellowstone National Park, with ranger staff and some facilities. Instead, they took on the isolated and rugged backcountry of the West Pioneer Mountains, Kluesner said.

They were using GPS mapping on their smartphones, but cellular coverage in the area is spotty, Kluesner said.

They slept outside the first night and found a "bare-bones cabin" as shelter on the second night.

"They got a little more adventure than they bargained for, but it'll be a story they can tell for a long time," Chase said.

Officials didn't release the names of the people involved.

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