Cecilia and Ted Nasmith, an Ontario couple in their 70s, are recovering from what can only be described as a harrowing ordeal.
“I was prepared to accept that I didn’t see any way out,” recalled Cecilia, a writer for the local Northumberland County newspaper.
Their story has a happy ending but it’s how they went from lost to found that makes it interesting.
“You don’t lose hope, you should always try to find your way out,” explained Ted, an avid outdoorsman.
The two went missing in the township of Lake of Bays, located near Hunstville, in the Muskoka region, north of Toronto last month.
The couple had been staying at a cabin on Oxbow Lake. It has been in the family for a long time so Ted is familiar with the area. They decided to venture out for a picnic in the nearby woods but got lost on their way back.
“Two parties had been missing since Monday morning lost in the woods and the wife of the now-missing person had made her way out, got help on Thursday morning around 8 o’clock,” said Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Const. Rich Boyd.
Ted decided it was best for them to separate and search for help.
“I took a lucky turn on an ATV trail and that’s how I got out,” recalled Cecilia.
She then reported her husband missing. The conditions were difficult for rescuers.
“Very thick bush, steep inclines, bodies of water, whether it be lakes, rivers everywhere, very wet, wet rocks, lots of cliffs,” described Boyd.
Neither Ted nor Cecilia had brought along a cellphone and they had not alerted family and friends to their plans.
“Time is definitely against us in that case,” said Boyd, who is a member of the Central Emergency Response unit.
The response was massive, by way of land, air and water.
“I could hear the helicopter overhead but they couldn’t see me and I couldn’t see them,” said Ted.
What he did see would frighten many hikers, alone in the wilderness.
“I saw actually three different types of bear. One was a mother and cub and the second one I ran into was two bears and a cub and the third one I ran into I nearly stepped on the cub,” he said.
It was 9 C and stormy, but the rescuers were tireless.
Hours after they began searching, they finally found Ted.
“They glanced over and he actually has a bald head and when their flashlights hit him, he was right there,” recalled Boyd, smiling.
“Everyone is holding out hope but when that member of our team yelled out that he located him and he was alive and conscious it’s kind of indescribable at the time, everyone is really really happy,” he added.
Ted had been found, suffering from hypothermia, hurting from his time in the woods, and missing his glasses, shoes and some other clothing.
“The nurse did a good job of patching me back up together,” joked Ted, back at home with his wife.
Together for nearly 50 years, it was their brief time apart in the woods that led them back together.
“Basically everything was against him but he had the will to push on … and in my opinion, she’s the hero in this story,” said Boyd.