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Rescued Virginia hikers recount ordeal in Montana wilderness

WASHINGTON, D.C. – They spent six days in bitter cold, on snow-coated ground and pounding rain. Rescued Monday, Jason Hiser and Neal Peckens sat in the sun, home safe at last.

“It’s warmer and dryer now,” said Hiser. 

They recounted the moment Monday afternoon when they heard a voice.   

“When the man who was hiking called out,” Peckens said.  “And we realized it was over, and we are heading back.”   

The two have hiked national parks before and the pair intended to spend one night camping. When snow covered the trail and they realized they had wandered far off the path, they hunkered down.   

“The worst part of this whole thing, we were not able to communicate with anyone back home that cared about us,” Hiser said. “And it wasn’t frustration, it was [the lack of] provisions.   We were down to three days of what we were setting aside.  We had three days left.”

Now that their ordeal is over,  Hiser and Peckens want to send a thank-you to all those who comforted their families and scoured the mountains looking for them.

“We’re very grateful for everyone that has shown so much support,” Hiser said.

Both Hiser and Peckens are 32-year-old veterinarians and healthy.  

Despite some weight loss, they are doing fine.  

Still, these lovers of the outdoors said they may curtail their hiking plans for a while.

“Well, we would love to, but I don’t think our wives will let us go for many years,” Peckens said.

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