Two Virginia hikers are happy to be home tonight after surviving in the Montana wilderness for six days.
The men endured winter conditions and rugged terrain while stuck in the backcountry of Glacier National Park.
“I don't think our wives will let us go for many years,” said Neal Peckens, of Herndon.
He and Jason Hiser can laugh about it now, but for six days the avid hikers were lost in wintry conditions in the mountains. Snow on the ground covered their trail, and their topographic map blew away from them.
Stranded more than 2,000 miles from home, their thoughts were with their families.
“My wife was having a baby shower on Saturday when I still wasn't home yet so I was worried about ruining that as well,” Hiser said.
He is expecting his first child.
Peckens’ wife anxiously waited with their son, who just turned a year old.
The families called authorities when the men didn't return on time.
“I think that the people at home had it worse than we had it, sadly,” Peckens said.
Peckens and Hiser finally were rescued Monday.
“We saw helicopters,” Hiser said. “We had a couple fly over our heads, but they couldn't see us through the fog.”
With the two-day food supply running low, Hiser was in a charge of rationing the food.
“For four days in a row we each ate a quarter of a Cliff bar per day,” he said.
Hunger was constantly on their minds. They each lost about 15 pounds while waiting for rescue.
They said the days they spent together hunkered down in a tent mostly consisted of talking about the first meal they would eat once they were rescued.
The ordeal was a test in endurance and friendship.
“We never got in any arguments,” Hiser said. “We never got irritated. We just kind of used our heads and thought through things. There are a lot of people out there that would take that situation a lot differently. So I think we learned that we were with the right guy.”
Mostly, they learned the best thing about being home.
“It’s a lot warmer,” Hiser said.
“And drier,” Peckens added.
“A lot more sunshine,” Hiser said.
“It’s really nice to be home,” Peckens said. “We are very grateful for everyone that has shown us so much support.”