NANAIMO — A 20 year-old man who was missing for almost three days while hiking near Nanaimo survived by drinking creek water, hunkering down in a cave, and walking.
Spencer Hunt of Victoria was not prepared to spend the night in the bush when he became separated from his hiking group on Saturday afternoon.
RCMP said he had no supplies and was wearing just a red sweater, blue jeans and running shoes.
Const. Gary O’Brien said a search helicopter spotted Hunt waving his arms before noon Monday in the area where searchers had been looking and about four kilometres from where he was last seen near Ammonite Falls.
Search crews were able to reach him and sent him to hospital for assessments. O’Brien said Hunt is expected to make a full recovery.
Hunt’s family was over the moon when they heard that he was found safe, O’Brien said.
Hunt told police his story of surviving three nights in the wilderness.
Described as the adventurous type, O’Brien said Hunt was feeling competitive and hiked away from the rest of the group.
“He wasn’t obviously thinking: ‘Oh, I better slow down, I’m losing sight of people,’ ” he said.
By the time he realized he was lost, it was too difficult to retrace his steps so he kept following the trail that “can virtually go for days,” O’Brien said.
Hunt told O’Brien that he had walked over three mountains, and spent his first night in a little cave he found behind Ammonite Falls.
He then came across a river that he began to follow and on Sunday saw the search helicopter fly overhead.
“He waved and yelled and screamed, but it didn’t see him,” O’Brien said.
He said Hunt decided to continue following the river, not having enough strength to climb to higher ground, and was eventually spotted the next day outside the search perimeter.
O’Brien said while three days without food left Hunt weak and tired, drinking the water from the river kept him going.
He said this is a good reminder to everyone to always be prepared when going out for a hike, even if it’s only supposed to be a day trip.
Data from Environment Canada show that temperatures in Nanaimo dropped below freezing on Sunday morning.
With colder nights expected in the forecast in the days ahead, O’Brien said crews were concerned for Hunt being lost much longer.
About 80 volunteers and member of Nanaimo Search and Rescue had helped comb the thick brush over the weekend, and another 60 people helped on Monday along with a dog, helicopter and drone.
O’Brien said many people from the local indigenous communities came out to look for the man, and his mother, Deborah Hunt, has been sharing her gratitude to everyone who took part in the effort.
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CHEK News: Rescue crews find missing hiker near Nanaimo