RICHMOND, Va. Jason Hiser says he learned a lot about himself while he and a friend were stranded for days in harsh, wintry conditions in Montanas Glacier National Park.
Its amazing to find out what you can do when you dont have any other option Hiser said.
Hiser, an associate veterinarian at a veterinary hospital in Richmond, and Neal Peckens of Herndon, Va., a veterinary cardiologist, camped for four days and built an SOS message out of logs after they lost the trail while hiking on a snowy mountain. The men, originally from western Maryland, were rescued Oct. 15 by a park employee who saw colored flagging that led him to their tent.
They tried twice without success to find a pass through the mountain that would allow them to return to where they started hiking. After that, they decided to stay put on a plateau in a burned-out pine forest and wait for rescuers.
They rationed food and water and kept a fire burning until rain began Oct. 13. The constant rain kept them in their tent for a lot of the time.
Its really strange how its almost like your body knows that youre in a survival situation, Hiser said. We werent starving, we werent dying. Its almost like our bodies had gotten used to it.
A helicopter flew overhead twice, but the searchers did not see them.
Since coming home, Hiser has spent a lot of time with his wife, Jane, who is eight months pregnant. He said he has been eating well.
Hiser said the national media attention that his experience attracted surprised him. He also was struck by the support he and his family received.
It just blew me away because I honestly never really realized that I had that many people in my life that cared about me, he said. You realize how important that is. I dont know that I could possibly even thank those people for what theyve done.
He said he and Peckens are donating more than $30,000 that was raised for the search-and-rescue effort to the rescue groups that were involved in it.