UW students survive wilderness ordeal
Two UW Stevens Point students are okay after being trapped in a wilderness in New Zealand for nine days.
Alec Brown and his girlfriend, Erica Klintworth, both 21, met a search team and returned to the city of Christchurch today. The two were part of a UW-SP foreign-study program and decided to hike and camp for a few days before taking their final exams.
But they could not cross a river to return, due to heavy rains and a Southern Hemisphere snowstorm. Brown told the Associated Press it was hard to sleep because of the noisy river - and the rain and sleet pounded on the tarp which covered their sleeping hammock.
Eventually, they realized they had to ration their short supplies of trail mix, rice, carrots, and peanut butter - and they used warm springs to avoid freezing. Brown said it never stopped raining for three days, and then the snow hit.
He said the hot pools kept them warm and slowed their energy losses. Brown said that by yesterday, the river appeared safe enough to cross again - and it was around that time they saw a search-and-rescue team.
Brown said it wasn't until they were debriefed that they knew how serious their disappearance was. Brown's mother Lisa is from Inver Grove Heights Minn., and she told the AP she panicked when she first learned Alec was missing - but she believed he and Erica knew the outdoors well enough to survive.