70-year-old Ontario woman survives night alone on Alaska hiking trail

Alaska glacier

A 70-year-old Ontario woman survived the night alone in Alaska’s wilderness without any camping gear.

The woman, whose name has not been released, was a passenger on the 965-foot Coral Princess, a cruise ship that was headed south through the Panama Canal. She left the boat to go on a solo hike near Mendenhall Glacier on Wednesday and got lost.

“She’s a hardy soul,” Kirby Day, port manager for Princess Cruises, told Juneau Empire. “She is a strong lady, and she knew what she was doing. She did all the right things except for making one wrong turn.”

According to reports she was hiking along the East Glacier Trail when she accidentally veered onto Nugget Creek Trail. She travelled solo for about 19 kilometres, but when darkness fell she became disoriented and decided to spend the night on the trail.

Police and cruise ship employees called tour groups and hotels for information on the woman’s whereabouts, but found nothing. A search team went out to look for her, but gave up around midnight. Because she was travelling alone, and wasn’t associated with any tours, they didn’t have much to go on.

Fortunately, the woman made it to safety on her own—at around 9:30 a.m. on Thursday morning, she walked into Juneau’s Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center.

Nikki Hinds, assistant director of the visitor centre, said the woman was well-prepared for a hike and arrived at the visitor centre in pretty good shape, all things considered.

“She didn’t have camping gear, but she wore layers and a rain coat,” Hinds said. “I’m sure she was still cold, but it was a happy ending when she came in this morning.”

Everyone was happy to hear she was safe and sound. The cruise ship, however, was long gone. Police officers picked the woman up at the visitor’s centre and drove her to the airport, where she flew to Ketchikan and rejoined the cruise.