After spending two nights stranded on a remote logging road on Vancouver Island, Ashlee Cosman says she feels overwhelmed by the whole experience.
The 36-year-old from Nanaimo, B.C., was out on a hunting trip with her father and her six-year-old daughter at Nimpkish Main logging road, southwest of Woss, about 130 kilometres northwest of Campbell River, last weekend.
“We were there to celebrate my father’s birthday and we have been going on such trips for a long time,” she told CBC’s All Points West host Jason D’Souza.
But the annual family tradition took an unexpected turn when their black Ford pickup truck got stuck in a culvert on the road Saturday afternoon.
“We were driving over a washed-out culvert, and my dad and I didn’t think two things of it, but then we got essentially high-centred,” she said.
After trying to pull the vehicle out of the ditch for more than three hours, the family decided to spend the night in the vehicle, she added.
Back home, Cosman’s brother had not heard from his sister since Thursday when she drove up to Woss from Nanaimo.
“It was getting kind of scary and sketchy, so our minds were automatically going to the worst possible places, which is never fun,” Trevor John told CHEK News.
On Sunday, a major search-and-rescue effort was launched as three helicopters, a plane and search-and-rescue ground teams searched the Nimpkish Valley for the them.
“The last cellphone ping was somewhere in the Woss area, and that’s really the only starting point we had because of how many logging roads there are up here,” said Campbell River Search and Rescue manager Dylan Baker told CHEK News.
Meanwhile, waiting for help on a mud-covered mountain road wasn’t getting any easier.
All Points West9:52Family shares story of rescue after 2 days stranded on logging road
“We didn’t have any cell service. It felt like a long wait and we knew people would be worried sick back home,” said Cosman. “Thankfully, we had warm clothes, blankets, Gatorades, pops and snacks to help us sustain.”
Cosman’s father, Willy John, said staying safe and warm in the chilly night was a better option than going to look for help.
John, who drives a logging truck in the area, said he knew there was a logging camp some 16 kilometres away but it was closed on weekends.
“So we just decided to hunker down and stay warm and turn the heater up,” he told CHEK News.
At 4 a.m. Monday, John made the long trip to the logging camp on foot.
“The foreman was just driving into camp, and I said, ‘Are there a bunch of guys looking for me?’ The guys said, ‘Oh, do you have a black Ford pickup?’ I said, ‘Yup.’ He said, ‘Get in,'” John said.
The foreman helped them get the truck out and the stranded trio drove back to safety.
Cosman said the ordeal has been a learning experience for the whole family, especially her young daughter.
“We tried to stay calm because we knew the minute we panic, she will feed off that energy,” Cosman said. “But it was a lesson and we now know the importance of telling people where you are, checking in and packing well.”
When asked if she is going to accompany her father on a similar trip next year, Cosman told CBC that she will not break the family tradition.
“I am going to ask Santa for a satellite radio and a satellite phone and just prepare a little bit more,” she said. “You think it’s not going to happen to you but you never know.”