A planned 14-hour hike from Alaska’s Eagle River Nature Center to Crow Pass Trail became a two-day ordeal for 29-year-old John Carlos Mann when he became lost and had to search for help alone.
Mann began the trip on Friday equipped with food and water, a headlamp, cellphone, sleeping bag, and emergency blanket. By Saturday, Alaska Dispatch News reports, he was out of food and resorted to drinking out of Bird Creek, which he followed all Saturday hoping to return to a trail.
“I was losing my temperature really, really quick,” Mann told the Dispatch News. “Then I said to myself the simple logic, ‘While you’re alive, you’ve got to keep trying.’”
On Saturday night, Mann slept in a wet sleeping bag and wrapped shreds of his emergency blanket around his hands and feet. Nighttime temperatures in the area hovered just above freezing in the past few days. All of Mann’s electronics were dead by Saturday evening. On Sunday afternoon, he discovered ATV tracks that led him to a residential area of Bird Creek by that night.
“I was probably walking like a drunk person,” he told the Dispatch News. Cars on the highway ignored his waves, and a local bar told him to leave. A couple at the Birdridge Motel & RV Park finally allowed Mann into their home. Mann suffered no injuries, and a friend took him home on Sunday.
“We all have heard these stories of survival,” he told the Dispatch News, “but once you live through it, you get a better understanding.”