Missing mom, daughter rescued after getting lost in the wilderness. It started out with a little confusion on which trail to follow that led to a bad situation for 47-year-old Carolyn Lloyd and her 22-year-old daughter Rachel, both of Charlotte, North Carolina.
On Tuesday, April 26, they headed out to hike the one-day Kapakapanui Track in New Zealand, where Rachel is a graduate student at Massey University. Things went very wrong from there, CNN reports.
After five days and four nights stranded in Tararua Forest Park, a helicopter search and rescue team spotted the mother-daughter pair’s “help” signs and thankfully airlifted them to safety. The experience sounds utterly harrowing, and we’re glad the women made it out alive.
The missing mom and daughter were rescued after a long ordeal. It all started out like any other hike. Carolyn and Rachel began with a backpack full of water, trail mix, and snacks. They followed orange markers to stay on the Kapakapanui Track and summited after about three hours.
When they kept going in an effort to finish the circular hike, the orange markers were nowhere to be found. They started following blues ones instead, which were actually signals for pest monitoring, not of the trail they needed.
“It got very steep, very jungly,” Rachel said in a statement. “The markers completely stopped after about 20 minutes, but it was so steep it was physically impossible to climb back up.”
As darkness fell, they were marooned on a small ledge on top of a 600-foot waterfall. The missing mom and daughter spent the night close together to stay warm, trying to keep each other awake so they wouldn’t tumble over the waterfall. It’s hard to believe, but the story only gets more terrifying from there, the Cosmopolitan Magazine reported.
On day two, they made their way down the cliff next to the waterfall and started following a stream. Rachel felt into the frigid water and hit her head on a rock, and Carolyn started carrying her exhausted, cold daughter on her back at times.
On day three, their cellphones died, and their supplies were so low sometimes they could only eat three peanuts at a time. To make matters worse, Rachel’s vision and hearing started going in and out.
On day four, convinced she was going to die, Rachel told her mother which of her souvenirs she wanted to leave behind to friends and family. That can’t have been easy for her mother to hear. Luckily, also on day four, Carolyn had the life-saving idea of making 6-foot tall “help” signs out of ferns, sticks, and rocks.
And by this point, their family members had raised the alarm missing mom and daughter. Authorities took it seriously because the pair hadn’t checked out of their hotel or returned their rental car.
Finally, on day five, Amalgamated Helicopters director and chief pilot Jason Diedrichs flew over the area. He and his team spotted the signs and the women waving their arms, were able to land nearby, airlifted them out of danger. Carolyn was physically OK, but Rachel was admitted to Wellington Hospital and treated for hypothermia and undernourishment.
The women’s family is understandably relieved at the news that their loved ones are safe. Carolyn’s husband, Barry Lloyd, said that finding out his wife and daughter were alive was “the greatest moment of [his] life.”
In addition, John Schumacher, Carolyn’s brother, released a statement to the paper. “My entire family wishes to express our tear-filled gratitude to all the amazing police staff, helicopter pilots, search team members, dog guides, volunteers, and news teams who kept us informed, and everyone else involved who worked so quickly and effectively to find — and save — my sister and niece,” his statement said.
FOX News said that as the missing mom and daughter were rescued, Rachel plans on staying in New Zealand to wrap up her studies. “I’m feeling so, so much better,” she said. “I’ve gotten a lot of food into me, I’m eating all the time, and just hearing my father’s voice, and my brother’s voice. On both sides of the equator, everyone’s support and love has been so overwhelming.”