Stranded hiker talks about cold night on Mt. Borah

Stranded hiker talks about cold night on Mt. Borah

Two hikers were stuck on Mount Borah overnight Sunday. This is a rendering of the peak from Google Earth.



Posted on August 15, 2009 at 1:36 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 24 at 2:25 PM

MERIDIAN, Idaho - Two men are back with their families after spending Sunday night stuck on Idaho's tallest peak.

The Meridian and Star residents hiked to the summit of Mount Borah Sunday afternoon, but on the way down got lost.

Nate Wheeler, 34 and Mike Thornton, 68 prepared for a long hike Sunday - but they were not prepared to spend the night - with temperatures dipping to the low 20s that evening.

"Just after summiting Mt. Borah we were making our way down and we were advised from some more experienced hikers to take an alternate path going down a ravine picking up the trailhead and going over," Wheeler said.

That alternate path led to an overnight stay in Idaho's wilderness - after the men to get lost.

"All I was wearing was shorts, windbreaker, stocking cap and gloves and temperatures probably dipped around 20 degrees so I am thinking 'this is going to be one cold night'," Wheeler said.

Wheeler says he slept for about 20 minutes and was shaking for most of the night. But despite his predicament he still took time to notice the beautiful stars.

"Having a positive outlook on things and prayer can really benefit a bad situation," he said.

A bad situation that turned out okay Monday morning when Wheeler and Thornton found their way back to the trailhead -- and back to their families.

"My wife was there at the rescue station," Wheeler said. "We gave each other a big hug. She whacked me on the back of the head, kicked my butt and I said 'thanks'."

Now that he's home with his family, Wheeler says he has learned a lot especially the importance of being prepared.

"Bring a pair of pants, just in case, you never know," he said.

Wheeler and Thornton are sore, a little dehydrated and are feeling fatigued but they both feel fortunate to be with their families.

"That was our first trip to the summit and probably our last," Wheeler said.

We weren't able to speak with Thornton because his family stopped in Sun Valley to rest after such a long night for everyone involved.

Custer County Search and Rescue crews began looking for the two men around 7:30 a.m. Monday.

The pair found their own way back to the trailhead about two hours later - around 9:30.