Submitted February 1, 2011

I knew I'd die if I don't do something now

I was running a trap line in Alaska, checking my line. I had extra time that day so I went further to see new territory. I came to a place where two rivers come together, this was a very beautiful place. The ice was 4" thick and walking across the river I noticed a patch of blue ice. Well, having 2 packs of traps and meat on my back, the ice didn't hold me. As I heard it break, I threw off my packs. I slid down a big piece of ice in the middle of the river. Since a guy gets a primitive survival instinct to survive and an adrenalin rush, I caught the main river ice under my arms. Looking down river, I knew I'd die if I don't do something now. This broken ice started to go under me. I really struggled to keep from going with it under the river ice, it was tearing my pants and shirts off me. At this point I fought for life. I got it past me and it thundered down stream. Now past that threat, I can't touch bottom to get footing to get on top again, and again I fought for my life to get out. The river wanted me. So I yelled "no." I did get out, but now I'm freezing, I can feel it. I pulled my pants up, my shirts down and covered all exposed skin. It was 25 below zero that day, so I ran. I had 2 miles to get to the snowmobile. I left everything behind, and ran for my life. I turned white, everything on me was frozen. My pants were solid and broke at the knees. I didn't quit till I got to the snowmobile. It started, but I was so frozen I couldn't sit on it. I had to go 6 more miles, so I laid on it holding the handle bars,d ragging my feet, and I'm frozen white. It was very hard to do this, and I fell off a few times, having had obstacles to maneuver. I did make it to the ranch, oh was I cold! My friend, bless him, was there. He ran out to me and dragged me into the big barn where I kept a fire for the animals. My clothes wouldn't come off at all. He hustled up a claw hammer and broke my clothes off me, ran into the house and got a towel, and the girls to help me. I was severely hypothermic now and going into shock. I didn't care the worst was over.

- Joe Elton

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