An Okanagan man and his brother spent the night lost in the backcountry after a snowmobiling day trip went awry.
Sheldon Goodwin and his brother left his Fintry, B.C., home on the west side of Okanagan Lake on Monday morning, intending to explore the area on their sleds for a few hours.
However, the pair did not make it home till around 10 a.m. Tuesday after a significant overnight search was launched.
Goodwin said the pair were at the top of a mountain and tried to head down towards a lake through some trees.
But the brothers got turned around in the dense trees, and when it started getting dark, they decided their best bet was to start a fire in a clearing and wait for help to spot them from the air.
Goodwin said the pair believe their loved ones would have called in search and rescue when they didn’t return home.
Indeed, an overnight search was launched by Vernon Search and Rescue, and in the morning, aircraft were used to see if the group could be spotted from the sky.
On the ground, Goodwin was wet and cold after a sweaty day of snowmobiling.
The brothers started a fire, which they hoped would not only help them keep warm but make them more visible to any rescue crews.
They also squeezed into a shelter from a survival pack they were carrying, but Goodwin couldn’t sleep.
“So (I) just decided to stay awake and keep the fire going.”
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They saw some airplanes go by and tried to signal by flashing their snowmobile lights, but no one stopped.
Goodwin had a lot of time to think.
“There were a couple things running through my mind, like does my girlfriend love me enough to call search and rescue?” Goodwin said.
“I knew someone would end up coming, I just didn’t know when.”
At daybreak, the pair decided to try and sled out. They planned to hike to find the best path and then go back to their sleds to make sure they didn’t get stuck.
They eventually came to a road.
“I was really happy. I knew that I was going to go home and get a meal and get a bath,” Goodwin said.
The pair finally arrived home around 10 a.m. on Tuesday and were thankful for those who searched.
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“I appreciate that 100 per cent. Without people like that, there would be a lot more fatalities out in the backcountry,” Goodwin said.
He said the experience showed him the importance of being prepared.
While the pair had extra gloves and some water and snacks, they weren’t equipped with extra clothes and the food for an overnight stay.
With no cellphone service in the area, they were grateful they’d told people the general area where they were going and when to expect them back because it allowed their friends and family to call for help when the pair didn’t return.
—With files from Jules Knox