Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Manitoba Premier Opens Up about Getting Lost, Injured in New Mexico Desert

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Manitoba Premier Opens Up about Getting Lost, Injured in New Mexico Desert

Article excerpt

Premier 'happy to be alive' after desert trek

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WINNIPEG - Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister choked up Tuesday as he recounted a harrowing night in the New Mexico desert that left him lost, wandering and with a broken arm.

"I am so happy to be alive. I am so thankful for the people down there," said Pallister, who paused briefly to collect himself as he gave his first comments to media since an ill-fated hike Nov. 13.

His left arm, fractured in several places, remains in a sling.

"It's been a humbling experience for me."

Pallister was on vacation with his wife Esther when they decided to do a hike in the Gila Wilderness -- a remote protected area in southwest New Mexico with limited roads, amenities and cellphone coverage.

Thinking it would be a short day hike, Pallister dropped his wife off at the north end of a trail, drove to the south end and started hiking toward a meet-up point halfway, he said.

The trail was much harder than expected, Pallister said. It was covered in some areas by downed trees and washed out in others by earlier flooding. As sunset came and the desert temperature dropped, Pallister, who was without a flashlight, got lost.

"I ran out of light. I lost the trail," he said.

"It wasn't a new moon but it was pretty close, and you can't see well, so I fell I don't know how many times ... probably a couple of dozen."

Pallister also recalled running into barbed wire. He suffered scrapes and bruises as he stumbled along, he said, and decided to turn back. His thinking was he would either meet Esther at his starting point or retrieve their vehicle and drive to the other end and pick her up.

As he made his way back, he lay down at one point, but it was too cold to stay put.

"I was trying to cover up and rest and I just started to shake and I knew I had to get up. And I got up and saw a spotlight," he said.

"I'd been wandering around in the dark for four hours, so that's where the 70 lacerations and the cactus stuff that I'm picking out of my body came from mostly. …

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