Imagine spending 22 hours away from your family and friends. Not so bad right?
Well now imagine spending it on the side of a mountain, in freezing temperatures, under thick brush, while watching rescue helicopters search in the wrong area, with no sign of rescue.
That is what missing Towsley Canyon hiker Brian Napoli recently went through after he slipped on some loose dirt on a hiking trail while working on a class project.
“My foot gave, and I tumbled about 50 to 70 yards down the mountain and got knocked out”, Napoli said.
Napoli was laying on the side of the mountain for approximately 30 minutes, unconscious. When he came to, he was stuck on the dangerous hillside, where he not only had to battle the elements, but also the wildlife.
“I started trying to find my way out and noticed a pack of coyotes about 50 feet away from me. I threw some rocks and some dirt at them to try and scare them away, but they didn’t seem phased.”
Napoli was without his cellphone, which had run out of batteries during the hike, as he was using the phone to take photos for his class project. Luckily he had called a few friends and family members and posted a few photos to Instagram before the device died, which gave rescuers a starting point on where to look.
Despite the lead, rescuers were unable to find Brian before calling off the search until daylight.
“I saw them pull the helicopters for the night, and all I had on was a tank top and shorts, so I had made my peace with god, was ready to spend my last moments on the mountain.”
Despite this, Napoli did not totally give up, he decided he needed to stay awake, keep warm, and stay moving until morning.
Upon sunrise, rescuers resumed the search but as it turned out, his family were the ones to help the most.
“It was actually my aunt and uncle who I heard screaming. They saw me waiving my shorts on a burnt out little tree, trying to signal rescuers, Napoli said.”
Rescuers were able to locate him, and after a few passes the rescue chopper was able to land and airlift him to safety.
“When we came around the corner I saw all the news vans and asked the guy who all that was for and he kind of smirked and said, ‘You.'”
“I mean, I didn’t think anything was wrong with me, I wanted to drive my car home, but the sheriffs and firefighters insisted I get checked out.”
Among the injuries Napoli sustained were a concussion, collapsed lung, and spinal cord injury, forcing a lengthy hospital stay.
Despite the ordeal, Napoli still hikes, and says he will continue as it helps him get away from the rigors of every day life. He says the periodic exercise allows him to clear his head and think clearly.