A Winnipeg man who was lost in the northern Manitoba bush for four days said a reality television show and a pair of eagles helped him reach safety.
Back with relatives at the Lake St. Martin reserve, Christopher Traverse told CBC News on Thursday he thought he would die while lost in the woods.
"The last night I worried because I was already going on the fourth night. I was getting worried that I wasn't going to make it … and I came out," he told CBC News.
Traverse emerged from the bush on Wednesday at the side of a highway, and flagged down a bus.
He had been missing since March 28, when he got lost while returning to the reserve about three hours north of Winnipeg from a fishing trip with his uncle.
He took a wrong turn and his snowmobile ran out of gas.
Traverse trudged through waist-deep snow for 13 hours a day with no food, no water and no matches.
The scenario reminded him of the reality television show Survivorman, and Traverse took inspiration from the show's star, Canadian Les Stroud. On the program, broadcast in Canada on the Outdoor Life Network, Stroud spends seven days in various remote and rugged locations with no food, shelter or water.
One episode begins with Stroud stuck in the Arctic with a broken-down snowmobile. He dismantles the machine, cutting the seat apart to make goggles, and using the windshield for shelter.
During his own ordeal, Traverse climbed the spruce trees to help keep his bearings and stay on track, and built shelters from them when he stopped to rest. He drank snow, using his body to warm the liquid before consuming it.
"The thought of him laying in the bush, it almost killed me," said his mom, Loretta Traverse, who thanked the Creator for leading her son home. "I cried every night. I prayed."
Christopher Traverse said a pair of eagles circled morning and night, and he was pretty sure it was the same pair he saw at the community health centre in Lake St. Martin after being checked over.
His family plans to go back and recover the snowmobile and take pictures of his makeshift shelters. Christopher offered to go along but his mom said, "No way."
Stroud told the Winnipeg Sun he was impressed by Traverse's story and hopes to speak with him about the adventure.