How a Moose Guide Survived Three Nights in the Canadian Wilderness
Last November, moose guide Randy Hilliard, 49, spent three nights lost in the Long Range Mountains of Newfoundland, Canada. Our...
Last November, moose guide Randy Hilliard, 49, spent three nights lost in the Long Range Mountains of Newfoundland, Canada.
Our group had seen only a few small moose that day—nothing worth shooting. It had rained steadily, and by late afternoon, I was cold and not feeling well. I told the six other guys I was with that I needed to head back to camp early. The fog was thick, though, and somehow I got turned around and took the trail away from camp instead of toward it. I trekked on, and by nightfall I had lost the path entirely. Rather than risk getting more turned around, I decided to make camp and find my way back in the morning.
Well, the next day, the fog was still heavy, but I decided to walk in the direction that I thought would lead to Little Mica Pond, where our cabins were. I had no food or water, and the weather made it hard to navigate in that mountainous country. That evening, I heard a helicopter and people calling for me, but every time I yelled back, only coyotes responded. They were following me, I was pretty sure. I caught sight of one just briefly, but it was still unnerving.
By the third day, the temperature had started to drop, and my feet were soaked. I cut off my shirt sleeves to make dry socks. Then I walked up a hill to get a sense of my location. I spotted another helicopter, but they didn’t see me waving. That night was bone cold, and I couldn’t stop wishing I were home with my family. I was losing hope. Come morning, I walked in place to regain feeling in my feet, then I hiked up a hill, in the direction where I thought the helicopter had gone. At the top, I looked down and saw something familiar—Little Mica Pond. I headed toward it, and as the cabins came into view, several people—including my boss, my brother, and my nephews—greeted me. They’d been looking for me since the evening I got lost. It felt surreal to just show up at camp again; I get emotional thinking about what could have happened. I should have known better than to hike alone without a GPS, and you can bet I’ll have one the next time I go out. I won’t put my family and friends through that again. —As told to Hunter Frint