Like so many 20-year-olds, Brady Slade just thought of having a great day on the late spring snow. What could be better than the day on the expanse of the Labrador wild and the freedom?
“I filled up my machine and set off, said there was no specific plan but I was heading towards the area of Ashuanipi,” Slade told the Aurora.
Slade says he went a little further than he planned, so he went to Myron where there is a White Wolf Snowmobile Club shelter.
When he decided to head back, off the trail he ran into a problem.
“I had a problem with my machine, I tried working on it but it wasn’t working. Then it was only about an hour of daylight so I decided to stay put.”
Things were good at first but it was getting cold and then it was impossible to keep the fire going.
“The first thing you always have been told is to stay put, and that’s I thought of, but it kept harder and harder to keep the fire going. It was cold, an unusually cold and windy for April.”
Slade told the Aurora he decided to head back to the shelter at Myron.
“It was dark, I headed out at about one in the morning it. I was cold but I walked close to eight hours. Those were perhaps the longest eight hours of my life. By myself, in the dark, the wind can make some gruesome noises; your imagination goes into overtime. However, I knew that I had to stay cool, be rational. I know I’ve been here before.”
He said there is always the temptation to stop for a short rest, but there are too many people who fall asleep and never wake up. Many people who have been lost in the woods have often say the mind can play funny tricks on you.
However, Slade knew he was focused, had a mission to stay strong as possible, keep cool and to make it back to the shelter at Huron. When he got to the shelter he build a fire and slept, but at times it seem like it was a dream.
Meanwhile there was a group of people looking for him, including the RNC, Search and rescue, a helicopter from IOC, and friends and family. It was just after noon when a group found Sladet. They gave him food and Gatorade. Then they took him to Ashuanipi where they alerted people he was found.
Slade says he’s thankful to Dion Carter, and to the people who found him. He says there are some important things that he learned.
“I didn’t have a plan, if I had a good plan and kept to it (it) would have been easier to be found. I also travelled alone. It makes sense to travel with another person, that if one machine breaks down then there’s a person to help you.”
Slade says he has spent a lot of time in the woods so knew it’s important to stay cool. He says his family were probably more stressed than he was. He also credits survivor skills he learned when he was at Menihek High School when he was in Grade 12. There have been other students who said the skills they learned in school have resulted in a good outcome.
Slade says it’s important to be prepared, even if you just go for a small trip have things that will help you survive, make a plan, try and travel with a person if possible.
He’s grateful to the RNC, SAR, the IOC helicopter, and the friends and family, and so many people who helped. He knows full well the outcome could have been quite difference.