"(It was) my wife and my son and the knowledge that the search and rescue community and people I don't even know were out looking," said Brad Lambert, who turned up safe and sound Saturday after spending 21 nights in his truck, stranded in the bush.
"That means a great deal."
Lambert, 46, had been last seen Nov. 15 when he stopped to buy supplies for a deer hunting trip southeast of his Winnipeg home.
Things went off the rails when a "wrong turn on the wrong trail" left him stuck and stranded in the middle of nowhere.
When he didn't return home, the search began.
Police and hundreds of volunteers scoured the densely forested area. Aircraft were called in.
Residents and business owners throughout Manitoba and Ontario were asked to check any buildings such as outdoor sheds, abandoned structures and garages on their properties.
Meanwhile, Lambert said he did what he could to survive. Although he had no food and ate nothing during the entire ordeal, he was able to melt snow for drinking water.
And he did his best to aid searchers.
"Daytime was spent building signal fires, walking through an expansive marsh trying to flag aircraft with my blaze orange hunting gear and trying to be noticed," he said.
"I could see some planes. At night there were some aircraft as well.
"Unfortunately, I guess they couldn't see me. It had to be a 10-20 square kilometre open meadow with bluffs — it would be extremely difficult to locate from the air one person.
"At times, it was very disheartening."
Eventually, Lambert realized he had to set out on foot.
He thrashed his way through heavy bush until he came to a trail, then followed the trail until it came to a road.
"I was found on the road."
Lambert says he feels fine, although he is tired.
"No ill effects. I'm eating, I'm hydrated and just enjoying being with my family."
He said he just wants everyone who helped with the search to know how thankful he is.
"It was a very emotional time and it still is. I'm just grateful to everyone involved."
— by Bob Weber in EdmontonSuggest a correction