Students from an Edmonton private school say their recent trip taught them about roughing it in the wilderness, even though they were lost and never did get to their intended destination on Vancouver Island.
The 10 Grade 12 students and two teachers from Tempo School in the Riverbend neighbourhood arrived at Edmonton International Airport late Wednesday night after they were considered missing for 18 hours on Vancouver Island earlier in the week.
For hours while they were lost, students like Jaskiran Sandha and Sherry Reth had tried to cut down trees to clear a path for their bus.
"Our bus wasn't usable," Sandha said. "We were really frustrated, tired and just wanted to get out of there."
"We would go up to pine trees and just start licking them for water," Reth added.
"We would find leaves on the ground with water and stuff so we won't get dehydrated."
The school group had landed in Victoria on a flight from Edmonton Sunday before leaving on a chartered bus headed to the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre, home to a marine sciences research station visited by hundreds of students every year.
Their chartered bus took a wrong turn because of a missing bridge and got stuck on its way to the coastal town of Bamfield.
To make matters worse, that part of Vancouver Island doesn't have consistent cellphone service. Parents and school officials didn't learn until Monday morning that the students hadn't shown up at their destination.
The news the bus had been found came late Monday afternoon when they got a phone call from someone with a logging company near Lake Cowichan. The bus was pulled out and students resumed their trip Monday afternoon.
They made their way home Wednesday, never having reached the Bamfield research centre.
Sandha's mother, Raj Sandha, is happy to have her daughter back.
"It's wonderful. There's no better feeling than that right now after what we went through," Sandha said.
"It's like you lost something and now you got it back."
Tempo is a private school with 380 students from kindergarten to Grade 12, according to its website.