What started out as a normal mid – March hike in the Badlands quickly turned into anything but normal.
A Florida native who survived for 25 hours during a snowstorm in Medora is calling it a true miracle that he is still alive.
Walker Wadkins is a seasonal worker at Bully Pulpit Golf Course, but on a recent hiking trip his day started out great, before mother nature changed her mood and hit him with whiteout conditions.
“Snow that was only boot deep was becoming knee deep, and all of my landmarks were suddenly disappearing,” said Wadkins.
He was lost, and he told nobody where he was going.
He also didn’t have a cell phone on him.
“I didn’t think it would work . . . I’ve lost a lot of good phones by having them fall out of my backpack, sliding down mountains,” said Wadkins.
His supplies were running low too.
“What I had with me besides water was a couple of pieces of apple pie,” said Wadkins.
Pastor Roger Dieterle, who Wadkins was staying with, said he knew he something was wrong.
“There was no note. His vehicle was here. His cell phone was here. I figured he went for a hike, and it got darker and darker, and he didn’t come”.
After wandering around lost for many hours, Wadkins started looking for a place to rest, because it was getting cold and dark.
He found refuge in small cave.
” . . . I slept in there. . . and my feet and legs were exposed to the outside,” said Wadkins.
He also said that if it wasn’t for duct tape his ordeal could of been a lot worse.
“What probably saved my toes from falling off was a role of duct tape I had in my bag.My socks had gotten so wet,” said Wadkins.
The next day the snow was up to his waist, and he was relying on snow for water, but he was able to find shelter in an abandoned cabin.
The Billings County Sheriff’s Department would find him a few hours later during a search and rescue.
“I was ecstatic, because I knew I needed to get treatment for my fingers. I lost my voice yelling for help most of the morning and night. When I yelled for them when they showed up, I had nothing,” said Wadkins.
He was rushed to a clinic in Beach where he was treated for dehydration, malnourishment, and minor frostbite.
He said it is a true miracle that he has lived to tell his story.
Wadkins is now advising hikers to make sure they tell someone when they are going on hike alone.