When Svetlana Evai planned an afternoon’s walk across the Russian tundra, she had no idea just how far off course she would stray. But once nightfall hit, she realized that she was hopelessly, desperately lost. As every passing hour decreased her chances of ever making it back home, she had to fight as hard as she could for survival.
Though she was 15 years old, Svetlana Evai lived her entire life in the Gydan Peninsula, a frigid place in northern Siberia. Svetlana dreamed of a life outside of the continuous routine with her family.
Like many others, she and her family herded reindeer to make a living. Though not the most exciting profession, shepherding instilled Svetlana with a deep confidence when it came to navigating Siberia’s rough terrain.
While she was stuck at home, Svetlana wished she were with her brother. He spent the summer at a different camp some distance away, presumably living it up and having all the fun Svetlana wasn’t allowed to have.
The Siberian Times
But of course, he wasn’t that far away — just four miles. Svetlana figured she could make that journey in no time at all and that whatever her brother was up to had to be more exciting than sitting around with her family and some reindeer.
Flickr / wowbagger0420
So Svetlana set off to visit her brother. She was traveling alone and without any kind of navigation aids, but she wasn’t worried. She knew the terrain like the back of her hand, so surely going a bit further wouldn’t pose a problem.
Yamal Peninsula Travel
Several hours passed, and Svetlana started to panic. She should have made it to her brother by now, and yet she stood in the middle of the wilderness, with no people or buildings in sight. She began to feel dizzy.
Flickr / Lady Fiszi
Meanwhile, her family back home grew concerned. Svetlana had never gone out alone for such a long time. Her Uncle Ivan, knowing that time was precious, organized a search party of family members and neighbors. They had to find her.
But Ivan understood the vast scope of the Siberian region. They could surmise the rough direction in which Svetlana had headed, but that knowledge only went so far: she could’ve gotten lost and switched to any other heading.
Gydan Nature Reserve
And that was precisely what had happened. After a rough night out on the tundra, Svetlana couldn’t make heads or tails of where she was. Before she could head back home, however, another issue pressed on her mind: survival.
Svetlana felt certain help was on the way, but realized it could be a while until anyone arrived. With a bit of luck, she located some cloudberries. They were half-frozen and unripe, but they were food.
Flickr / Eero Sarkkinen
As more time passed, Svetlana kept moving. She continuously looked over her shoulder, for she knew dangerous beasts lived out on the tundra. Arctic wolves would usually go after stray reindeer, but they would gladly accept a lost girl as their meal.
Flickr / Safi Kok
Night fell again and again. Although daytime temperatures could sometimes reach 80 degrees Fahrenheit, the night air dropped far below freezing. Svetlana shivered herself to sleep as she fought to stay alive.
Flickr / hpaich
Svetlana grew so weak that she could no longer walk. Nevertheless, the will to survive kept her going. Praying that some help would arrive soon, she began to crawl on her hands and knees. She didn’t have much time left.
Her Uncle Ivan continued the search, but there wasn’t any trace of Svetlana, who went missing over two weeks before. He had spotted some brown bears, though. Could a bear have hunted her down and dragged her off to its den?
Flickr / John Solaro
Dismayed, Ivan walked around an area just seven miles from their home. Then, without warning, he spotted a figure on the horizon. It ambled toward him. Without thinking, he ran towards the shape and hoped for a miracle.
Flickr / Brendan Ó Sé
It was Svetlana! Though her body was battered and bruised and she was emotionally spent, somehow, she stayed alive. Ivan resisted the urge to scold her for acting so foolishly and arranged for a physician to examine his niece.
The Siberian Times
Living in such a remote part of the Gydan Peninsula, Svetlana did not have access to a full medical staff in the immediate vicinity of her home. A helicopter arrived to carry her to a hospital. Once aboard, she shared her incredible story.
Nobody could quite believe how Svetlana scraped together the bare essentials out in the wilderness. Though still just a girl, she managed to evade the tundra’s many hazards while knowing how to take advantage of its biggest asset: plenty of fresh water.
The Siberian Times
Amazingly, Svetlana seemed pretty healthy. Though she had no shelter and barely any food over the course of two weeks, her vitals were pretty steady. Doctors found no sign that her life was in danger.
But just as a precaution, Svetlana’s family kept her in the hospital in Tazovsky to fully recuperate. They gave thanks that she survived such an ordeal and hoped that after her harrowing adventure, Svetlana wouldn’t mind spending time at home again.
Clearly, Siberia is not for the unprepared. So it’s really the last place in the world a 4-year-old girl and her dog would want to make their playground. But somehow, that’s exactly what just happened…
© Ask Yakutia
Four-year-old Karina Chikitova lived in a remote Siberian village in the far east region called The Sakha Republic. There, she shared a small home with her father, mother, grandmother, and her dog, Naida.
In July of 2014, she followed her father, Rodion, on an expedition into a part of the Siberian wilderness also known as the taiga. Karina was energized by a youthful curiosity and an urge to explore and learn more about the natural world.
But the taiga is not exactly a great place for children. It is very much an animal kingdom, dominated by bears, tigers, and wolves with really sharp teeth and an appetite for people.
The second, and perhaps more pressing problem with Karina’s decision was that she had not told her grandmother — the person charged with watching her at the time — that she would be following her dad into the bear-infested wilderness.
In fact, she hadn’t even told her dad that she would be following him. So literally no one on the planet knew that this four-year-old girl was diving headstrong into the most dangerous territory on the planet. No person, at least.
Karina did have a companion at her side: Naida, the family dog. That, evidently, was all the comfort the little girl needed, but it was little comfort to her mother, Talina, when she realized her little girl and the dog were both missing.
At first, Talina figured her youngster and the dog followed Rodion to his native village, but Siberia wasn’t exactly flooded with quality LTE, so she couldn’t pull out a cellphone and check. Instead she waited to hear from her husband.
In the meantime, Karina, followed her father until she somehow managed to lose his trail. Her dad disappeared from view leaving her very much stranded in Siberia with Naida. And the bears. And the wolves.
It took four days of waiting for mother Talina to learn that, no, her daughter was not with her husband in his home village. No stranger to Siberia, she understood this to be a very bad thing, so she alerted authorities.
Radio Free Europe
They deployed a 100-person rescue team to head out into Siberian wilds to find her. The team carried rifles to fend off bears (yeah, there were that many bears in the woods).
Helicopters sliced the sky and rescue workers on foot combed through the trees and tall grass, but their search proved fruitless: Karina was nowhere to be seen. But then, nine days after she went missing, authorities found a clue.
More specifically, a clue walked right up to the authorities and introduced herself. Naida returned to her home — but Karina was not with her! What should’ve been a hopeful moment only seemed to confirm Talina’s worst thoughts.
“If she was to hug her puppy,” Talina said, “we thought, ‘this would have given her a chance to…survive.’ So when her dog came back we thought ‘that’s it.’ Even if she was alive — and chances were slim — now she would have definitely have lost all hope.”
But Naida hadn’t just wandered absentmindedly home. She seemed eager to show the desperate family and the rescue crew something important. The dog headed the group of rescuers and led them into the wilderness…
The dog led authorities to a spot in the wilderness, but none of them saw Karina there. Naida, it seemed, couldn’t find the exact area where she’d left the little girl! Authorities wondered if they were anywhere near her at all.
But three days later — 12 days after Karina first went missing — rescue workers spotted a child-sized footprint on a river bed beside a dog’s paw print. The footprint revealed Karina was barefoot, a crucial detail for investigators.
This told rescue workers that Karina likely was not in the woods. Too many sharp sticks there would’ve been a nightmare on her feet. This narrowed their search down considerably, and the following morning, they executed that new search plan.
And sure enough, just 20 meters from where they started searching, one rescue worker noticed a peculiar lump tucked away in a patch of tall grass. The whole crew rushed over.
They found her nestled in the grass. She was starving, thirsty, exhausted, and covered in mosquito bites, but nevertheless alive. They brought her tea before carrying her to a car and whisking her away to the nearest hospital.
The child spent some time in the hospital, but physicians determined there wouldn’t be any lasting damage. A psychologist examined her mental state and found, shockingly, her mind was in a good place. Talk about mental fortitude.
So how did a four-year-old girl survive in the Siberian wilderness? The little girl told reporters and her family that she survived off wild berries and river water.
Then, of course, there was Naida, the lovable canine that gave her warmth at night and companionship in the daytime. The two reunited for the first time back at home when the hospital released Karina. The meeting did not go as expected.
When Karina first saw her dog, she looked her in the eyes and chided, “why did you leave me?” Those three days of solitude must’ve really affected the little girl. But eventually, she came to understand what the dog did for her.
“It was Naida who rescued me,” Karina said sometime later. “I was really, really scared. But when we were going to sleep I hugged her, and together we were warm.”
Karina’s story gripped everyone watching, and locals even erected a statue of the girl and her pooch to celebrate their strength and will to survive. Not bad for a four-year-old and her dog, huh?
In the end, Karina made a full recovery, and by 2018, attended a ballet boarding school 350 miles away from the village she’d wandered away from all those years ago. Her teachers believed she had the talent to compete in Russia’s competitive ballet scene.
“When she just started her classes, Karina was very reserved,” a boarding school leader said. “She has changed so much and became a lot more open, sociable, friendly and independent. She made many friends who love her lots.”
But even as she danced like an expert and earned friends with her exuberant personality, she would never forget the friend that made it all possible: Naida, the loyal canine. Unfortunately for one woman, she didn’t have a dog’s assistance when she was hopelessly lost in the wild.
As a nature-loving 60-year-old, Sheryl Powell was in heaven. Living in Huntington Beach, California, gave her the best of both worlds: the ocean was within earshot and forests and lakes were a short drive east. Little did she know that paradise was about to get dangerous.
Inyo County Sheriff’s Office
Sheryl and her husband, Joe, decided to take a trip somewhere different. They headed northeast towards the Nevada border. Driving past Death Valley and the Sequoia National Forest, they came to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest.
The area is home to some of the oldest trees in the world, which twist skyward from the rocks. It’s also known for being a secluded and surreal pocket of nature. That made it the perfect spot for the couple to go camping.
Everything was coming together. The pair beat Los Angeles’ infamous traffic, made it to the park, and found the ideal spot to settle down. But then Sheryl mentioned that she had to get out of the car.
The couple brought their small dog with them and, after driving for several hours, it was time for her bathroom break. Sheryl took her for a quick walk as her husband re-positioned the car.
CBS San Francisco
When he returned minutes later however, something was strange. Sheryl and the dog were nowhere to be found. Surly they couldn’t have gone too far that quickly. So Joe began to look around.
Inyo County Sheriff’s Office
He spent an hour searching the area where he had last seen his wife. There were no clues; he was stumped. Joe returned to the campsite and decided he only had one choice left.
Inyo County Sheriff’s Office
Joe got out the emergency satellite phone and called for help. If he couldn’t find his wife, maybe trained professionals would have a better chance than he did. If nothing else, it was worth a shot.
A missing hiker will always generate a swift response, but this case was something different. Sheryl had instantly vanished from right behind her husband’s back within feet of their campsite. Something worse might be afoot, so time was of the essence.
Inyo County Sheriff’s Office
Before long, helicopters were circling overhead. Search crews with jeeps combed the underbrush while dogs sniffed for any sign of Sheryl or her pet. Despite those efforts, days began passed without any signs of life.
Inyo County Sheriff’s Office
They still couldn’t find any clues. Hope started to wane. Sheryl was somewhere out there in the baking sun without supplies; she was at risk of heat stroke, dehydration and snake bites. Her family began to develop a new theory, however.
They suspected that Sheryl had been abducted. She wouldn’t have willingly wandered away from the campsite; her dog also had a bad leg, so it wouldn’t have led her away either. Someone or something had to have taken her.
Four days after the disappearance, rescue teams were searching approximately two-and-a-half miles from the campsite. Morale was running low, but they heard something out of place in the wilderness that gave them hope.
Inyo County Sheriff’s Office
Searchers found a small barking dog that matched the description of Sheryl’s dog, Miley. If she was still alive, maybe her owner was somewhere nearby! With cautious optimism, the team kept pushing ahead.
The search team inched downhill, fighting against the steep terrain. After about two-and-a-half hours of painstaking progress, they found something else. Someone quickly placed a call for a helicopter.
Malibu Search and Rescue
Sheryl had been found, exhausted but otherwise unharmed! She was airlifted out of the park by medevac and taken to a local hospital to recover and rehydrate. But what had happened over the past four days?
According to Sheryl, when she’d stepped out of the car, she was approached by a stocky man wielding a knife. As if that sight wasn’t shocking enough, he made a threat that instantly terrified her.
The man reportedly threatened to rape Sheryl. If she didn’t comply, he would use the knife on both her and her beloved dog. Sheryl made the only choice she could: flee the campsite across the rocks.
From there on, she stayed off main roads and traveled at night out of fear that the man would find her. She avoided him, but got lost in the process, only surviving cactus fruit and stagnant water.
Understandably, her family was overjoyed to have her back in one piece. “SHES ALIVE!!! This is the happiest day of our lives. We can’t thank everyone enough!!!!!!!” Powell’s daughter, Farrah, wrote on Facebook.
Sheryl’s escape provides a valuable message for any hiker. Make sure you have food, water, and other essentials accounted for; you should also be familiar with basic survival skills in case of emergency. But what happens when a dog, rather than a person, vanishes?
Liz and Graham Hampson considered themselves the ultimate dog parents. Though they have an adult human son, they devote most of their attention to caring for their schnauzers, Charlie and Theo.
The Hampsons lived in the quiet English village of Buttermere. Maybe it wasn’t the most exciting place in the world, but it was peaceful and gave their dogs plenty of room to roam around.
Coleraine Probus Club
The nearby Red Pike fell made for a fantastic walk. The rocky ground could pose a challenge to the unexperienced hiker, but Theo and Charlie had traversed it many times. They probably had every stone memorized, figured their family.
One pleasant summer day in 2017, John had rare free time on his hands. He volunteered to take the schnauzers on a walk up by the fell. His parents told him to have a nice stroll.
Both pups, aged 7 years and 15 months respectively, were generally on good behavior. Since there weren’t any other people around they would bother, John decided to let them off their leashes for a while. Wouldn’t some wide open space do them good?
However, the unpredictable British weather threw John for a loop. A heavy mist rolled in out of nowhere, making it impossible to see just a few feet in front of him. He called out so Charlie and Theo would come back to him.
But as the fog receded, neither schnauzer was anywhere to be seen. Trying not to panic, John scanned the landscape in every direction. He whistled. He prayed. Still nothing.
Meanwhile, Liz and Graham’s relaxing afternoon back home came to an abrupt halt. The phone rang, and neither could process the words coming out of the speaker. John said that their beloved dogs ran away.
The Sampsons were desperate to get their pups back home, though they knew the Red Pike fell posed too much land for just a few people to cover. Without help, they’d never get Theo and Charlie back.
Word about the lost pets got around quickly, and plenty of people stepped forward to help. Over 120 locals volunteered to help look! They didn’t turn up any leads after the first day, so one resident proposed a novel strategy.
The techie brought out his two drones! They flew all over the surrounding Buttermere area, scanning for two scared and hungry schnauzers. But after four days of searching, the dogs were still nowhere to be seen.
Things weren’t looking good, and Liz and Graham’s hopes began to waver. They figured that their poor canines must be starving out there. And that sad thought suddenly transformed into a bright idea.
Graham, rifled through the refrigerator without stopping to explain to his wife what he was looking for. She saw him grab a package from one of the drawers and dash outside. He was headed for Red Pike fell.
Liz followed her husband out to the exact spot where John lost track of the dogs. She then understood that he’d carried a bundle of sausages out of the fridge, and they were now roasting over a small portable grill.
His plan was simple. If the hungry dogs hadn’t gotten far from where John had lost them, they would smell the crispy, sizzling sausages. And if he knew anything about Charlie and Theo, it was that they couldn’t resist a barbecue.
The couple crossed their fingers as the grill sputtered. Then, two tiny silhouettes appeared on the horizon. “When they first appeared it was like a mirage. I could not believe it was them,” recalled Liz.
Charlie and Theo returned! The moment proved overwhelming for their human parents, who couldn’t believe that their last-ditch strategy worked. However, they had one phone call to make before they could really celebrate.
John, now back at the naval base, had been in an awful way. When his parents called him to share the good news, they heard a chorus of cheers in the background as he told his sailor pals that the dogs were back.
Atlanta Metro Council
Nobody quite knows what Charlie and Theo, who happen to be father and son, got up to during their four days in the wild. Maybe they were busy with some heroics out there? Strange as it sounds, it’s happened before.