After being stranded for nearly two weeks and writing goodbye messages to friends and relatives, Daryl Blake Jane was found by a snowmobile-aided search party.
Daryl Blake Jane of Bainbridge Island knew he was in trouble when his Jeep Cherokee became snowbound on a remote U.S. Forest Service road west of Mount Adams.
Jane, 37, rationed his small supply of water, rice cakes and banana chips and ran the engine for just seven minutes a day, enough to defrost the vehicle. He kept the snow from piling up on the vehicle and spent a lot of time meditating in his sleeping bag. When he ran out of food and water, he drank from puddles.
On Saturday, after being stranded for nearly two weeks and writing goodbye messages to friends and relatives, he was found by a snowmobile-aided search party and was rescued without even the loss of any fingers or toes to frostbite.
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“Thankfully, he persevered,” said Tim Wilkins, Jane’s uncle and fellow resident of this island in Puget Sound west of Seattle. “He was very methodical. He knew exactly what to do to survive.”
On Tuesday, with Jane still too exhausted to be interviewed, Wilkins described his nephew’s ordeal to the Kitsap Sun.
Jane left on Nov. 18 to attend a “spiritual gathering” in Trout Lake, planning to return the next day to watch football with family.
When he didn’t return and failed to appear for work two days later, a Monday, Wilkins went to authorities, but the investigation was slow to get started.
“We had nothing to prove where he was,” Wilkins said.
The family obtained a list of about 30 people who attended the gathering, but none recalled seeing Jane, and an initial search around Trout lake proved fruitless.
Credit card receipts showed Jane had purchased a drum in Tacoma the day he left the island, apparently to use in a drum circle at the gathering, then bought groceries in Morton that afternoon.
That meant he was headed south toward Trout Lake through the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, and by Nov. 30 Wilkins said relatives had a “feeling” he was on Forest Road 23.
He said sheriff’s deputies said the road already had been searched, but relatives were dubious and enlisted the aid of Jim Meslow of Packwood, who heads a snowmobile team called the “Drift Skippers.”
On Saturday, two weeks after Jane headed for Trout Lake, they forged their way through snow as deep as seven feet and many downed trees to find Jane, exhausted and hungry but still alive, in his vehicle 33 miles along the lonely 57-mile road.
“No one could really believe it,” Wilkins said. “I don’t think anyone’s ever lasted in freezing temperatures that long.”
The family gained some important lessons from the experience, he said.
“We learned to appreciate every day and make the most we can out of every day,” he said, “and also always let people know where you’re going and the route you’re going.”