FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — An Alaska man who attempted to walk 50 miles between two villages at 35 below zero was found in good shape 4 miles from his goal by searchers called by his family.
Lawrence James, 52, wore heavy winter gear and carried water and a .22-caliber rifle. He walked nonstop for 15 hours and told searchers he didn’t get cold on the long stroll between Birch Creek and Fort Yukon, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.
James left Birch Creek at about 7 p.m. Monday and spoke to Fort Yukon Police Officer Michael Ivie on Tuesday when he was found.
“When I asked him why he did it, he said that a cousin of his did it a few years back and he thought he’d try to see if he could do it,” Ivie said. “I told him, ‘more power to you, buddy,’ but that’s not something I think I’d want to try.”
James’ family alerted Alaska State Troopers and village law enforcement in part because he was not completely sober.
“He had been drinking,” Ivie said. “Not a whole lot, he wasn’t drunk. He had a couple of drinks. He said if he had to do it all over again, he would have probably picked a different time. He said his last drink kind of gave him that urge, that oomph.”
The cold temperatures clinched the decision to search, Ivie said.
“Our issue is that it was minus-30 or below, and he was by himself, and he was only carrying a little .22 rifle,” Ivie said. “There were all sorts of possibilities that might have happened. He could have been trampled by a moose or (attacked by) wolves.”
The rifle would not be effective against a moose or predator, Ivey said, but said James “could have shot a couple of ptarmigans to eat.”
James felt fine during his walk, he told Ivie, but acknowledged his legs were hurting after 15 hours.
“That’s understandable, he’d just walked 50 miles,” Ivie said.