A Phoenix man is thankful to be alive after being stranded in the wilderness for four days. This happened over the Christmas holiday in the California backcountry.

“I’m like, buddy, we may not make it out of this one,” said Phoenix native Brent Lendriet.

Brent Lendriet, 65, can’t wait for him and his dog to get back home to Phoenix.

“I have basic skills for surviving in the wilderness; I was just not prepared for what I endured,” said Lendriet.

Lendriet was on a trip with his girlfriend near Halfmoon Campground in the Los Padres National Forest. He says they were searching for gold that was passed down through his lineage. On December 23, he decided to go back to the area again by himself.

“Suddenly, my truck is up to the doors in water. So, I jump out into this ice-cold water, run around to the front of my truck… It’s got a winch and I pull the winch cable out and wrap it around a tree and pull myself out,” said Lendriet.

It had been raining the days prior which caused the drive through severe terrain to be extremely difficult. The U.S. Forest Service had closed the gates for the winter season as a safety precaution. Still, he decided to continue on, and went around a second gate.

“I’ve taken that road many times – you need a special vehicle to do it – and normally, I can get through it,” said Lendriet.

He regrets making that decision as his truck ended up stuck. The next four days were spent trying to survive extreme conditions.

“I peeled off my clothing because I was freezing to death and threw them in the back of my truck, and I had some dry clothing I put on. The next morning, all of my clothing [were] frozen solid like ice cubes,” said Lendriet.

He said that at night, temperatures would drop into the teens. He was able to message his girlfriend but said having authorities find him wasn’t easy. On the 26th, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office confirmed they located Brent and rescued him.

“I had a flashlight with a strobe on it and it’s getting dark and as they’re coming back, I’m strobing them. I said, ‘Look, man, I’m so sorry. I made a really bad choice in judgment here,'” said Lendriet.

He said Deputy Josh Vulich not only saved him and his dog but went back two days later to help him get his truck out.

“He’s wonderful. I said, ‘I’ve never been so happy in my life to be pulled over by a sheriff,'” chuckled Lendriet.

His warning to others is – no matter your skill level or what you’re driving, nature can still get the best of you.