Hiker Injured and Stranded In The Mountains Shares His Survival Story
FRESNO, Calif. (KMPH) —
A Clovis hiker who was badly hurt and stranded in the mountains for five nights is sharing his survival story.
Gregory Hein is recovering at Community Regional Medical Center in Downtown Fresno. His leg is broken in two places and it's infected. However, he told KMPH Fox 26 News how he survived being stranded in the mountains.
"You kind of have to have a one track mind. Having gone through that experience, you can't really think about that, it does go into your mind, but you can't dwell there or it incapacitates you," says Hein.
The 33 year-old says while hiking above 10,000 feet in the Fresno County mountains a boulder smashed his calf and a piece of bone was sticking out of his leg.
"There was this dangling foot and my foot was bouncing," adds Hein, "I had to grab it, so it wouldn't bounce off or cause any more damage or bleeding."
Hein says he made a splint using his trekking poles, belt and straps from his backpack. However, he had no way of letting anyone know he was hurt.
"I had three days to survive before anybody would be looking for me," says Hein, "There was the potential that I would lose my leg and I had to come to grips with that pretty quickly, which wasn't terribly difficult to deal with."
Hein says he crawled to a field filled with snow and drank melted snow. He didn't have any food, so he ate crickets and moths. The experienced hiker says he wasn't worried about eating.
"My wound got infected after the first day," says Hein, "Anytime the infection would come onto the skin it would actually disfigure the skin a little bit and I wanted to keep it as clean as possible."
Hein says he put snow on his leg and scraped off the infected skin. After five nights of waiting to be rescued, Hein says he finally heard search helicopters. However, the crews couldn't see him.
"I'm waving my sack, like a smoke signal, trying to get people to notice me," says Hein, "Both the helicopters flew within a hundred yards of where I was and couldn't find me."
Then Hein says the helicopter flew right over him.
"It was rather fortunate that we both happened to be in the same spot."
As Hein recovers, he says he'll hike again. However, he will take a reflector mirror and personal locator beacon with him.
"You don't need to bring the kitchen sink to be safe and have a good time, but at the same time I will be cautious about my own life when I go out again."
Hein has a long recovery ahead of him. Once the infection is drained from his leg, he will need at least two surgeries.