Hiking is one of those deceptively easy activities where people think, “What’s so hard about walking around in the wilderness for extended periods of time?” You got to try it to understand the true struggle.
Apart from hikes being taxing on your feet (at the very least) due to extended walking through rough hilly (or even mountainous) terrain, there’s also the factor of unpredictable weather that can change drastically and make under-prepared hikers stuck for hours if not days.
This is exactly what happened to Nicolas Stacy-Alcantara, a 17-year-old teenager from Fresno, California, who went on a spontaneous hiking trip through Millcreek Canyon east of Salt Lake City, Utah.
Nicolas decided to go on a spontaneous hike through Millcreek Canyon, east of Salt Lake City, Utah
Image credits: Jen Pilgreen / University of Utah Health
Nicolas was visiting his friend from Utah and had some time to kill before dinner. His feet itched for adventure and the weather was good for a walk through nature. So, he decided to take a short hike through the nearby Millcreek Canyon to Park City.
The young adventurer packed some PBJ sandwiches along with a bottle of water and took an Uber up the canyon. The hike started off very well. However, the mountain weather took a u-turn and it wasn’t long until Nicolas was in the midst of a snowfall with temperatures falling beyond what he had anticipated.
What at first was good hiking weather quickly turned into snowfall, trapping Nicolas on the mountain
Image credits: KPIX CBS SF Bay Area
Eventually, he was forced to stop. What was worse was that the area had no connectivity—cell phone coverage did not reach here. He was effectively stuck on the mountain.
With no possibility to go further, no signal, and his feet starting to freeze, Nicolas did not lose his wits and engaged survival mode by building a snow cave to keep himself warm and safe from whatever nature throws at him.
The teen spent the night in a snow cave he built, having his phone go off every 30 minutes to keep his body awake
Image credits: UUHC
Needless to say, he missed dinner. This alarmed his friends and family who called the police when nighttime came and he wasn’t home yet. He spent the night in his little snow hut with his signal-less phone going off every 30 minutes to keep him awake and the body working.
Spending the night was difficult with thoughts of survival and despair chaotically racing through his mind. As he was starting to lose hope, he found beads in his backpack that his ex-girlfriend once gifted him. It served as a reminder that people cared for him and that he can’t give up now.
After 30 hours in freezing temperatures on the snowy mountain, he ran into other hikers and was rescued
Image credits: mister_oak via Reddit
In the morning, he left the comfort of his snow hut and was soon found by a group of hikers who had a satellite phone with them. He was brought to the University of Utah Hospital where he has been treated for frostbite. Given the situation, experts said he had slim chances of survival but luck was on his side.
So, PSA time: if you’re planning on going hiking, remember that it’s no cakewalk: check the weather, familiarize yourself with the trail, let others know where you’ll be at, dress appropriately, and pack the essentials (navigation, first-aid, lighting, food, and water).