WINNIPEG – Manitoba’s premier is giving some more details about a wilderness hike in New Mexico where he broke his arm and became lost.
Brian Pallister has refused to do media interviews about the ordeal, which happened on Monday but was only revealed to the public on Friday.
Instead, he and his wife, Esther, answered questions posed by a member of his staff in a video posted on Facebook that’s just over four minutes long.
Pallister says the solo hike was supposed to be only six or seven hours, but getting injured and lost meant the ordeal was close to 11 hours.
His wife called police when he didn’t show up where he was supposed to and a New Mexico State Police officer found him, injured, at a trailhead.
When asked by the staffer why he didn’t call for help on his cellphone, the premier replied that cell reception isn’t the kind of thing one finds on a wilderness trail.
Esther explained the she was able to get a signal at the spot where she was supposed to meet her husband, and called police.
“You hike wilderness hikes to get in touch with nature, not to get in touch with daily challenges. So Esther and I have done a lot of hikes over the years like this,” said Pallister, his left arm in a sling, when asked by his staffer why he was hiking alone.
“It won’t deter us from going out and hiking again but I’m glad to be home, glad to be alive and thankful for the help and support of a lot of people that got me back.”
Pallister was on vacation during a one-week break between legislature sessions and the hike was in the Gila Wilderness, a 2,200-square kilometre protected area in southwestern New Mexico.
Lt. Elizabeth Armijo of the New Mexico State Police said rescue volunteers prepared for a search after Pallister’s wife phoned, but it was called off when he was located at the main entrance for the Mogollon Trail.
“I could hear a siren, which was a great sound after, you know, ten hours-plus of not knowing if anybody else was around,” Pallister said.
It wasn’t clear in the question-and-answer with the staffer whether Pallister had a phone with him or not.
In Saturday’s video, Esther noted she had her phone with her, even though there was no reception, so she could take photos.
Pallister said that two things kept him going during the ordeal. The first was thinking about Esther and his kids. The second, he said, was some Coors Banquet beer that he remembered was in the cooler in their car.
Esther said the doctor has told her husband to rest, which she said will be hard for him.
“He doesn’t rest easily. The doctor says it can take six weeks for this type of a fracture to heal, so we have to work hard to make sure he stays as steady and immobile as possible,” she said in the video.
Pallister also noted that his medical expenses in the United States will be covered by travel insurance he purchased.
—by Rob Drinkwater in Edmonton with files from Steve Lambert in Winnipeg