Hiker rescued from Canol Trail

by Jennifer Pritchett
Northern News Services

NNSL (Aug 11/97) - Jim Hrymack didn't want to be rescued 50 kilometres from finishing his hike of the Canol Trail.

The Canadian Forces pilot had spent 34 hours on a ledge just above water level on a river when the RCMP chopper found him and his dog July 30.

"I really wanted to finish the trail, but I was worried about Katie -- she was pretty thin at that point," he said. "If the water would have risen, I would have had to climb the mountain."

Twenty-four pounds lighter than what he was 23 days earlier at the start of the journey, Hrymack and his dog had worked hard, averaging about 20 kilometres a day.

But he was already two days late and was down to about a day's worth of food.

High waters had washed away all the dog food and he had been feeding his five-year-old golden Labrador some of his own food.

"If I had more time, I would have finished, but I was already two days overdue and I had to be back to work," he said.

Despite the weight loss, Hrymack said that he didn't feel that he was in any danger. "People can last for days with just water," he said.

Hrymack was one of 11 Canadian Forces hikers who were rescued on the trail -- the other 10 were from Department of National Defence headquarters in Ottawa.

But for most of the trip, Hrymack was alone with his dog. Days of solitude in the bush, he said, was easy to handle because of the scenery.

"I was busy taking care of myself and there was lots of nature around me," he said. He saw caribou, grizzly bears and countless other animals along the way.

He had been planning the three-week trip for the better part of a year, but he didn't foresee the difficulties of the high water levels on the trail this year.

He lost his grandfather's rifle while crossing one of the rivers. The river also took away the dog's saddlebags that held the dog food and doggie treats.

"I stepped into water past my knees with about an eight mph (seven knot) current -- the next thing I know -- I'm done and being washed away," he wrote in his journal on day 21.

"I was a little surprised, to say the least, as I took a few gulps of water."

None of this, though, has deterred him from returning to the trail to finish his trek next year.