Hiker Found Alive Near Olympic National Park After Crawling With Broken Leg for Nearly 11 Hours

A hiker who broke his leg while running on a remote snowy trail near Olympic National Park in Washington was rescued Sunday. He had been crawling on his hands and knees for nearly 11 hours before help arrived.

Joseph Oldendorf was running along the Duckabush Trail in the Olympic Peninsula when he broke his leg on Friday around 5:45 p.m. (local time) by slipping on ice.

He crawled for several hours before finally reaching an area with cell phone service around 12:30 a.m. on Saturday, after which he called for help and kept crawling along the ground to keep his body warm.

He was located by rescuers around 4:30 a.m. and airlifted around 7 a.m. by a member of the U.S. Coast Guard who took him to Seattle's Harborview Medical Center.

"I had to crawl on all fours and my knees—it's a rocky, snowy, dirty, wet trail—and after a while my knees were just raw," 26-year-old Oldendorf told Seattle's KIRO 7 from his hospital bed.

"So I had the idea [to] put my shoes over [my knees] so I would at least have some traction and a little bit of protection, but they're still really messed up.

"I stopped to lay down and stay warm thinking they [the rescuers] might be [at the airlift point] relatively soon, but I was way too cold and there was no way I could do it without moving, so I just decided to keep moving towards them," he said.

"I was just trying to keep my mind on moving. I knew deep down that that was my only option, so I didn't really stop to entertain anything else. I just tried to stay warm and keep going," Oldendorf told Seattle's KOMO News.

Lieutenant Commander Sam Hill, the pilot of the MH-65 helicopter that transported Oldendorf to hospital, told KOMO News: "We like to train for high-altitude rescues because of the mountainous region we operate in.

"Because of that training, we were able to overcome numerous environmental challenges to rescue the hiker from a dangerous situation."

The hiker has been treated by surgeons, who placed a rod in one of his tibia bones as well as a plate and a few screws in a fibula. He is expected to recover fully from the injuries in about 12 weeks.

Earlier this month, a woman missing for nearly a week after going on a walk in the remote outskirts of Australia's bushland was found alive, having survived on fresh water at nearby creeks and sleeping in caves.

Last month, another woman who went missing for nearly a week in California was discovered alive inside her car buried under snow.

Olympic National Park in Washington, USA
A stock image of the southern region of Olympic National Park in Washington. A hiker running on the Duckabush Trail, which crossed the park, was found alive crawling with a broken leg for nearly 11 hours on Sunday. Getty Images