Michael St. Laurent still can’t believe he got frostbite in October.
The 45-year-old experienced hiker spent nine days lost in the mountainous North Shore backcountry and was rescued by an off-duty North Shore Rescue worker Saturday afternoon.
He said he was just planning an easy-in, easy-out day hiking trip, but he didn’t expect the frostbite would debilitate him after going off a well-used trail and spending the night without a tent.
St. Laurent also admitted he made a critical error of not letting anyone know where he was going and leaving behind his communication device.
“In retrospect, yes, I should have left word,” he said yesterday at a press conference at Lions Gate Hospital where he is currently recovering from second-degree frostbite.
St. Laurent survived by eating berries and drinking water from nearby streams.
He remembered taking out a felt pen and writing his personal information on his forearm in case someone found him unconscious or lifeless.
“I could feel my liver getting cold, my skin getting cold and I was losing my body heat,” he said.
“That’s when I put my personal information on my arm – my name, my social insurance number and my date of birth, and my main medical issues.”
Rescue workers said the tarp most likely saved St. Laurent’s life as it protected him from the elements.
St. Laurent advised people who plan to go hiking in the area to never head out without letting someone know where you’re going.
He learned his lesson, he said.
“Next time I go hiking I’ll be a lot better prepared,” he said, adding he’ll make sure he has flares and a GPS-equipped phone. “I'm going to be quite a bit more humble about that.”