Camper Chris Cloutier recalls 3-day ordeal in Manitoba wilderness
24-year-old says he relied on survival skills he saw on television
A Manitoba camper who was lost in the woods for three days says he relied on skills he saw on TV to survive, as well as a lighter and a bag of all-dressed potato chips.
Chris Cloutier, 24, was separated from his friends near Shoe Lake in Nopiming Provincial Park on Saturday afternoon. He was found safe late Tuesday.
Now recovering from his ordeal — he has a leg brace and a limp from slipping on a rock — Cloutier told CBC News he's happy to have survived, but he won't be camping again for a while.
"It was horrible, but you got to stay positive and think about the people around you and just think about getting out. That's about it," he said in an interview Thursday.
Cloutier said he had tried to use the sun as his compass, but he got lost because it was cloudy.
"When I got on top of the cliff and looked, there was nothing but bush for miles," he recalled.
Cloutier had with him a lighter and a backpack with a few items of clothing inside. He said he lived on water that he collected with an empty plastic bottle, as well as the bag of chips.
"I'm never going to eat all-dressed chips again, ever," he said.
With no knife, his hands are covered in scrapes and cuts from breaking up wood and birch bark for fire.
The fire kept Cloutier warm at night, while during the day he made smoke signals in the hopes of catching the attention of rescue crews.
"You'd hear the planes come around and you'd quickly try to set a fire and make a smoke signal," he said.
"Once that didn't work, I just grabbed a couple pieces of wood and made an arrow of which direction I was going."
Finally, on the third day, Cloutier found an all-terrain vehicle trail and followed it out of the bush.
He said he was picked up by a driver who took him to a gas station near Lac du Bonnet, Man., for his first hot meal in days — a cheeseburger.
"Probably the best burger ever," he said. "I had another four after that, and two hotdogs."
Cloutier said he's thankful for everyone who helped search for him, adding that the experience has made him appreciate his family and other things in life more than ever.