(WPRI) — Malik Gavek, Dany Gomez and Jarren Prata love the great outdoors. But the Rhode Islanders got more than they bargained for when they attempted to climb 3,440-foot Mt. Avalon in Grafton County, New Hampshire.
The three men began their hike around 6 p.m. Saturday. Gavek said they decided to turn around at the summit since it was getting late. “We tried going up the summit, but decided it was best to go back down,” he said.
As they descended, the trio lost sight of the trail and veered off into the woods. Gavek said they began to wonder if they needed to call for assistance.
“It was hectic trying to figure out what we were going to do,” he said.
As the sun went down, temperatures began to drop. Prata said the men decided to stay where they were.
“It got dark really quickly, and it got to the point where it was too treacherous to move along,” he recalled.
After more than an hour of attempting to regain their bearings, the men called for help. It took conservation officers a couple of hours to reach them, according to Gavek, so they huddled together to keep warm until help arrived.
“We heard a whistle in the distance, and fortunately Malik had a whistle on his bag,” Prata said. “We were just relaying back and forth so they could track us.”
The conservation officers guided the men back down the mountain to the trailhead, reaching their car just before 1 a.m. Sunday. During their descent, Gavek said the conservation officers told them that another crew was out recovering the body of a hiker that didn’t make it.
“It is insane to think about how blessed we are to even be here,” Gavek said. “It goes to show how close we were to having something really horrific happen [to us].”