VANCOUVER, Wash. -- An 11-year-old autistic boy who disappeared Saturday while hiking with his family in the Siouxon Creek Trail area of Skamania County, Wash. found his own way to the trailhead after spending three nights in the woods.

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Authorities said Alex Irvin appeared to be fine physically when he talked to rescuers at base camp.

Skamania County Undersheriff Dave Cox said Alex disappeared Saturday afternoon while hiking with his family.

The family told rescuers that they last saw the boy around the 2,000-foot level, which was about three miles up the 22-mile trail. Searchers canvassed the area from Saturday night through late Sunday, hoping Alex would see them on the trail and make contact with them.

They had taken a break in the search late into Sunday night and were about to resume efforts Monday morning when the boy surprised them and showed up at the trail head on his own.

Family members had feared Alex might be very disoriented and told rescuers that his autism would often cause him not to speak to strangers.

The Siouxon Trail is located east of the small town of Chelatchie, outside of Amboy Washington. A hikers' Web site describes it as a popular hiking area with many trails and campsites to choose from. It warns that some of the switchback trails can be very steep and dangerous for children.

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