Missing California girls describe surviving 2 days in wilderness: "We needed to find shelter fast"

Calif. girls on how they survived wilderness

Two young sisters who survived alone in the California wilderness for nearly two days are recounting their story. Rescuers found Caroline and Leia Carrico near Richardson Grove State Park on Sunday, about a mile-and-half from their house.

The girls' parents said it's normal for them to play unsupervised on their 80-acre property, reports CBS News correspondent Jamie Yuccas. But this time around, the sisters found themselves in unfamiliar territory – and unsure how to get home.

"We just wanted a little more adventure but I said to go a little farther," 5-year-old Caroline said. She and her 8-year-old sister Leia went a little bit too far during a hike in the woods behind their home on Friday. When they didn't return, their frantic parents reported them missing.

"Awful, terrified and guilty," mother Misty Carrico said.

"Spent two days crying my eyes out, looking everywhere we could think of to look," father Travis Carrico said.

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8-year-old Leia Carrico and her sister, 5-year-old Caroline CBS News

While their parents feared the worst, older sister Leia went into survival mode.

"It was starting to drizzle so I knew we needed to find shelter fast," Leia said. "And we had my sister's rain jacket to keep us warm… We turned it sideways so each of us had an armhole that we stuck our arms into."

Realizing they couldn't make it home, Leia tried to keep her little sister calm.

"My sister cried the whole night so I told her to think happy thoughts of our family and I kept watch for most of the night," Leia said.

"I thought of going to the park with mommy and daddy," Caroline said.

By Saturday, a search effort was underway with more than 250 people from across the state.

"We heard helicopters and we yelled at them, but they couldn't hear us because of their loud motors," Leia said.

Early Sunday, firefighters Delbert Chumley and Abram Hill spotted a trail of boot prints.

"We both popped out of the brush and slid under and there were these purple rain boots and I was like, 'Oh my gosh,'" Chumley said.

The girls were dehydrated, but otherwise okay.

"They saved each other," Misty said, adding, "I'm the proudest mom, I raised super heroes."

The parents said the girls have two years of wilderness survival training through their involvement in 4-H, a national youth organization that provides educational programs for kids. Leia even said she knows how to make a fire but didn't have to this time around.