CONGAREE NATIONAL PARK, S.C. — After spending 60 hours lost with his two children in the vast woods and swamps of the Congaree National Park, drinking foul water and trying unsuccessfully to eat raw turkey eggs, J.R. Kimbler says he knows what not to do next time.
Kimbler, 43, had planned a quick nature hike with his two children during their visit. He took no water or snacks, nor his daughter’s asthma medicine or a trail map.
‘‘I feel like the world’s worst father. But I guess I did pretty good because I kept everybody alive for three days,’’ Kimbler told reporters just before they were released from the hospital Tuesday.
Kimbler and his kids, 10-year-old Dakota and 6-year-old Jade, were rescued Tuesday morning. Doctors said they were fine except for some dehydration, scratches, and bug bites.
Kimbler said the signs on the trails confused them Saturday afternoon and they ended up lost among the giant trees, deep in the undergrowth and marsh of the 27,000-acre park. The trails were especially tough to follow.
As the sun set, Kimbler realized they were hopelessly lost and sent a short text message to a friend. Right after he hit send, his cellphone died.
Kimbler is a taxi driver with no Boy Scout or survival training. ‘‘Closest I got to that was watching the ‘Survivor’ series on TV,’’ he said.
So he did what he could. They drank scummy, terrible-tasting water that collected in puddles after picking out the bugs and leaves. They kept walking toward the sun, because Kimbler figured they would run into something or someone. They tried to find food, and Kimbler thought they hit the jackpot after scaring away a wild turkey and finding six or eight eggs. However, that didn’t go well.
‘‘I grabbed one of the eggs and said, ‘We can eat these — crack them open and swallow them whole!’ I cracked it open and the bird was too developed. It was gross,’’ Kimbler said.