What was meant to be an afternoon on a hiking trail turned into two days wandering the wilds of Prince Albert National Park.
Three adults set off on the unmarked Freight Trail on Thursday, Sept. 15. When they didn’t return by supper time, family and friends became worried. They were reported missing to Parks Canada the next morning.
Shannon Bond, information officer for Parks Canada, said a “hasty search” was organized after the report came in. When it didn’t turn up the lost trio, more resources were brought in for a perimeter search of other trails.
Approximately 20 people, including volunteers, searched for the three. Two K-9 units, a helicopter, and even a Hercules aircraft were brought in to scour the forest with night vision.
After two days of searching the three were found at approximately 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17.
They stumbled out of the brush near Mud Creek Bridge, just north of where they had parked one of their cars at the end point of their original path.
The Freight Trail they were on is unmarked, meaning it’s no longer on any current park maps.
“These were people that are familiar with the park and have been here for a long time,” Bond said. “It’s a place they know and explore.”
Bond said they seemed in good spirits after being found.
“We’re thrilled, this is the ending you want,” she said. “They looked healthy, they said they’re okay. I think between the three of them they did the right thing and worked together and stayed calm.”
This is the second report of missing people in the park this summer, though the first incident only lasted a few hours.
Bond said people going missing in the park is an uncommon occurrence.
Parks Canada will debrief with the found explorers once they’ve gotten rest to learn where they became turned around and what Parks Canada can do in the future to make sure other park attendees don’t go missing.
The trio, tired and hungry, declined an interview shortly after being found but said they will be available once they’ve recuperated from their ordeal.