DETROIT, OR (KPTV) – From the Mexico border to Oregon, Robb Campbell has been hiking along the Pacific Crest Trail since May. But this past week presented his biggest challenge yet.
When he reached almost 7,000 feet in the Willamette National Forest near Detroit, Campbell knew a chance of snow was in the forecast. But he says it arrived much sooner and harsher than he anticipated. At times, there were blizzard-like conditions – which eventually led to a crisis.
“Basically, just because of the weather conditions, I got lost,” Campbell said. “I accidentally got off the Pacific Crest Trail, and I was in the woods pretty much.”
According to Campbell, he had a GPS designed for hikers on his cellphone, but poor service and disorientation led him 7 miles off-trail.
He was equipped with proper winter gear and tried to set up camp but whipping winds and heavy snow eventually soaked his clothes and sleeping bag. His food supply also ran out.
“What was really frightening, you just get so cold... because you know, everything that you’re wearing is soaking wet," he said.
Around 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Campbell made the decision to call 911 and asked for help. But he wasn’t sure if it would come.
“The call got cut off because the cellphone reception, you know, it’s pretty hit or miss out there in the mountains,” Campbell told FOX 12.
Luckily, a search and rescue team had set out to find him. Unluckily, it would take more than 24 hours to do so.
“When you’re just lying in the tent, you just have these thoughts that ‘Gee, if I do fall asleep, am I ever going to wake up?’” he said.
After spending a total of three days and two nights lost in the snow, help arrived Friday afternoon.
Campbell said he was told crews were able to locate him based on a signal from his cellphone, which eventually led them to find his footprints, which the team tracked to a restroom shelter where he had been trying to warm up.
“I just kind of pushed the door open, and they were there,” he said.
Campbell’s hiking hiccup cost him a glove, his trekking poles and left him with frostbite on his foot.
But all things considered, he considers himself lucky.
“It could’ve been a lot worse,” he said. “So, this is nothing compared to what could’ve happened.”
Campbell said he plans to still finish his trip but hopes to stick by the side of other hikers for the rest of the way.
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