Mike and his dog quickly followed the tracks in the snow. He hoped to at least see the lynx and maybe his dog could tree it. He pushed on for hours.
It was supposed to be just an hour in the woods with his dog, then home again to get ready for Thanksgiving. He didn’t take his phone, a light, water, matches, or any survival gear. He was dressed warm, but not for a night out in the cold. He just got caught up in the chase.
At 4 o’clock, he had been in the woods for over five hours. At 5 p.m., it was dark and his vision started to blur and he began seeing double. He decided to stand near a tree and wait.
When Mike didn’t return home, his wife began a search. It quickly expanded to include the Alaska State Troopers and Central Emergency Services. A helicopter from the Rescue Coordination Center flew down. Many from the church showed up to help and stand by.
Mike said the helicopter flew over him twice but didn’t see him. Discouraged, he stood in the cold and darkness. The temperature dipped down to 5 degrees.
Bo and Tobias, friends of Mike, were searching on a trail when they heard a shot. They decided Mike was in that area and went out to the road to tell the other searchers. They returned to the area and found his tracks in the snow. They quickly followed his trail, headlights stabbing the darkness. They heard him shouting and headed in his direction. Mike, being cold and exhausted was hallucinating, seeing a drone with flashing lights. He was yelling at it, trying to draw attention. They quickly built a bonfire to warm Mike up. His clothes were frozen. It was 5 a.m.; Mike had stood in place for 12 hours.
It took awhile for Mike to even start shivering. He was clearly near collapse from the freezing temperatures. He couldn’t have survived much longer.
The men coordinated their next move with CES rescuers. They walked Mike to a small lake where snow machines met them for the ride out to Swanson River road. At 7:30 Thanksgiving morning Mike was put in the ambulance. He had been out in the woods for over 20 hours.
Einstein is said to have remarked, “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.” The miracles became evident beyond coincidence. No frostbite. No immediate sickness. No shot in the woods, at least from Mike because he was out of ammo. Only his kidneys showed trauma from lack of water.
AST and CES are to be thanked for their help. Bo and Tobias Abbott deserve a lot of credit for the rescue. They went into the cold, dark woods that night after Mike, determined they weren’t coming back out without him.
Many people prayed for Mike to be rescued from freezing to death. God answered those prayers to the relief and joy of many. Desperate prayer to the Lord Jesus Christ who is able to answer is a wonderful privilege. If you or someone you know needs to be rescued, look to the One who can help and has the answers.
Mitch Glover pastors the Sterling Pentecostal Church. Sunday Bible class at 10 a.m. and worship at 11 a.m. are livestreamed on Facebook as well as the Thursday Bible study at 7 p.m. Visit the services and sterlingpentecostalchurch.com.