A 79-year-old woman from Ontario got lost on a solo hike close to an Alaska glacier and had to spend a night in the forest with no camping gear but walked to safety the following day.
A search on Wednesday night failed to find the cruise ship passenger from Canada but she hiked to Juneau’s Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center on Thursday morning, the Juneau Empire reported.
“She’s a hardy soul,” said Kirby Day, port manager for Princess Cruises. “She is a strong lady, and she knew what she was doing. She did all the right things except for making one wrong turn.”
The name of the Ontario woman was not released. She was a passenger on the 965-foot Coral Princess, which has 1,000 passenger cabins and a crew of 895.
Nikki Hinds, assistant director of the visitor centre, said the woman left on an independent hike of the East Glacier Trail and veered onto the Nugget Creek Trail. As night fell Wednesday, she became disoriented and she decided to spend the night on the trail.
Juneau police organized a multiagency search and looked for the hiker until midnight. The woman had travelled independently about 12 miles to the glacier and her hike was not part of a tour. Police and cruise ship employees called tour groups and hotels seeking information. A patrol officer spent four hours downtown asking people if they had seen the woman.
The Coral Princess, meanwhile, left port at about 4 p.m.
The woman appeared at the visitor centre at about 9:30 a.m. Thursday. She was tired and wet but in good shape. She was well prepared for hiking in planet’s largest temperate rainforest, Hinds said.
“She didn’t have camping gear, but she wore layers and a rain coat,” Hinds said. “I’m sure she was still cold, but it was a happy ending when she came in this morning.”
Police officers picked the woman up from the glacier and drove her to the airport. She flew to Ketchikan and rejoined her ship, Day said.
“This was one of those ones that turned out good,” he said. “We’ve had a couple over the years that didn’t.”
For other Coral Princess ship accidents see at CruiseMinus.com.