KEREMEOS – An Ontario couple who went missing in the Similkameen Valley southwest of Keremeos late last month have have decided to share their experience.
Rick Moynan and Lynne Carmody were first declared missing by staff at Cathedral Lakes Lodge when they did not return from hiking by supper time, Monday, June 22.
What followed was a week-long effort by RCMP and search and rescue teams — including helicopter teams, search dog teams and more than 300 trackers.
During that time Moynan and Carmody saw rescue crews fly overhead and decided to venture away from their make-shift shelter to try and get to where they saw those crews.
Sunday, June 28, the couple emerged from the woods virtually unscathed.
In the following letter the couple describes their ordeal.
No words can describe the gratitude we feel to the people involved in assisting with the search for us. We would like to take this opportunity to take the focus off us and put it more on the people who were instrumental in the search. Since our return we have heard endless stories about the large number of volunteers, the search teams, the volume of work involved and the selfless dedication and commitment of everyone had. The search coordinator involved family members to be at the search base site and be part of the process. We are so grateful as that allowed them to keep our Ontario family and friends up-to-date with accurate information.
On June 21 we arrived at Cathedral Lakes Lodge, on invitation from the owners/operators (names omitted), intending to enjoy some hiking and lodge surroundings. The hiking opportunities are amazing and views are breathtaking.
On Monday the 22, we set out for a day hike and quite simply we made a huge costly mistake. We left the trail and within hours we were nowhere near where we were supposed to be and were totally lost in a thick wooded area. At that point, it was getting later in the day and we made a shelter for the night.
The next day we heard the helicopters conducting a search so we climbed to a higher location in order to be more visible and this is where we stayed for five days. We knew staying in one location was important as was staying hydrated and sheltered. We watched the search helicopters from a distance for five days, hoping we would be seen, but realized the focus of the search was closer to areas we were supposed to be. So on day six, Saturday, we made the decision in the evening that the next morning at first light we would start walking back to the lodge. Fortunately, the route that we planned proved to be correct. Our plan was based on using position of the sun and the path it took as it travelled overhead. This really confirmed the direction we had to head for. It took most of the day, but we arrived at Cathedral lakes Lodge successfully in about 8.5 hours.
Things happened very quickly for us at that point. As we made our way to the Penticton Hospital, we talked with medical personnel, search personnel, helicopter pilots, realizing the magnitude of the whole search process.
We wish we had the chance to hug or shake hands with every person who contributed their time on our behalf. This has been a truly humbling experience.
We will always appreciate the beauty of this area, the mountains and the amazing hiking, but we now recognize to be safe hikers, we need to be properly prepared. We have learned a valuable lesson and are overwhelmingly thankful to everyone who gave so much of their time.
Lynne and Rick
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