“I just started wandering off and I thought, ‘Okay, as long as I keep following as fairly straight of a path as possible, I’ll be okay. The next thing I know it’s dark and I’m completely lost.”
John Wiersema only planned on a two hour hike through Utah’s Bryce Canyon but his small backcountry excursion turned into a full on survival ordeal after getting lost for 4 days.
John Wiersema was not prepared for an extended stay in the backcountry and ended up eating pine needles and drinking straight from a stream. He was only wearing shorts and sweatshirt so when rain turned to snow he was very exposed. He did have a map but “A map only works if you know where you’re going.”
Wiersema was beginning to lose hope and believe that he would die out there:
“I was ready to just lay my head down and accept my fate. I wasn’t sure when I first heard their voices if I was really hearing human voices. When I saw them and realized it was humans, it was the most overwhelmingly positive thing that I’ve experienced in a long time.”
John’s rescuer’s turned out to be a father, son and grandfather who were on horseback. They brought John back to the trailhead on horseback where rescuers met him for transport to hospital were he was treated for severe dehydration.
As the snow melts and we start heading out to our favorite hiking spots remember John’s story and be prepared for the worst case scenario. Even a small trip in the woods can turn into a fight for survival if unprepared.