PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Malik Gavek, Dany Gomez and Jarren Prata love the great outdoors.
But the Rhode Islanders tell 12 News they got more than they bargained for when they attempted to climb to the top of Mt. Avalon in New Hampshire over the weekend.
The trio began their hike around 6 p.m. Saturday evening. While they were making great time, 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,” Gavek said.
On their way back down, the trio lost sight of the trail and veered off into the woods.
“We were trying to figure out whether we were at the point where we needed to call someone,” Gavek said. “It was hectic trying to figure out what we were going to do.”
It wasn’t until the sun went down and the temperatures started to drop that the men started to worry.
“It got dark really quickly, and it got to the point where it was too treacherous to move along,” Prata recalled. “We decided it was safest for us to stay put than continue forward.”
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.”
“When we heard the whistle, it was a huge sigh of relief,” Gomez added.
The conservation officers guided the men back down the mountain to the trailhead, returning to 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].”
Now back home, the trio tells 12 News they’ve learned a valuable lesson.
“It didn’t really sink in that we were stuck until it happened,” Prata said. “It’s one of those things where you never expect it to happen [to you].”
“Prepare for the worst and know that anything can go wrong at any time,” Gavek added. “It’s best to be overprepared than underprepared.”