Rescue teams don’t hold out a lot of hope when someone goes missing in an icy Alaskan forest. Few outcomes look promising. Did he freeze to death? Was he attacked by a bear? Each possibility is worse than the former.

So when a diligent team of Alaskan State Troopers received a call about a missing person, Tyson Steele, they knew the odds of a successful mission were low. A certain clue seen in the snow, however, convinced rescue workers he may not be lost forever.

When the family and friends of 30-year-old Tyson Steele heard nothing from him in weeks, their minds started imagining the worst. It wasn’t like him to ignore the people in his life. This was all too odd.

Tyson Steele / Facebook

They asked authorities for a welfare check to ease their minds. Alaska State Troopers checked his secluded Alaskan cabin, his nearest neighbor being 20 miles away, but no one was there.

Tyson Steele / Facebook

Tyson lived alone in his remote Susitna Valley cabin since he purchased it from a Vietnam War veteran in September 2019. The introvert’s only company was his six-year-old chocolate Labrador, Phil.

Tyson Steele / Facebook

“Miles and miles of forests, hills, rivers and lakes separated him from the road system,” read a report from the Alaska State Troopers. That was how Tyson liked it, away from the world. And that’s why no one witnessed his terrifying ordeal.

Tyson Steele / Facebook

Tyson’s nightmare began when he awoke in the middle of the night, as he felt strangely chilly. He got up and fueled his nearly ancient wood stove with a giant piece of cardboard before hopping back into bed. This was a mistake.

Tyson Steele / Facebook

The hasty move sent a spark through his chimney, which then fell onto the cabin’s roof, all while Tyson was fast asleep. He didn’t wake up for some time.

Tyson Steele / Facebook

Hours later, he rose, cold again, to the sound of blazing drips of plastic coming through the roof above him. He rushed outside, only to witness a horrific sight. Tyson reached panic mode.

Sam Friedman / News-Miner

His roof was up in flames. Tyson looked down to see his feet stuffed in boots short of socks, along with a pair of long johns under a wool sweater. He realized he had to act fast to grab more clothes and whatever else he could find before they turned to ash.

Gibraltar Fire Department

He ran inside the burning cabin, grabbing whatever was sitting on his bed, which included heavy coats and sleeping bags. He had no time to think. As each second went by, the flames swallowed more and more of Tyson’s life.

Stephanie Reighart

After hurriedly exiting the cabin, Tyson called for Phil, who was somewhere inside. Tyson saw Phil leap off the bed, thinking the furry lab would make it out of the fiery cabin. Tyson then ran to the other side of the cabin to fetch his rifle… which is when he heard howling.

Tyson Steele / Facebook

Tyson’s heart sank. His beloved dog was caught in the flames, and there was nothing he could do but scream. He let out a visceral screech, nearly tearing his vocal cords. Tyson flooded with heavy sorrow.

Tyson Steele / Facebook

He stared as all of his belongings, including his bullets, were completely engulfed by flames. The fire then reached Tyson’s stored oils and grease tank. Soon, explosions went off here and there.

Stephanie Reighart

In a fit of hysteria, Tyson did whatever he could to put the flames out, throwing snow at it like a madman. He worked to put it out until the sun finally rose. He eventually went through the remains of his life to see what he could salvage.

Tyson Steele / Facebook

He had no working phone and no car. It was a matter of merely surviving in the frosty woods. Tyson counted up whatever cans were salvageable, calculating he had approximately two cans a day for 30 days on rations.

ABC News / YouTube

The aggressive flames popped open cans of food, and partially melted jars of peanut butter. Everything tasted like black smoke, but Tyson was in no position to get picky. For the first two nights, he slept in a snow cave, which provided little warmth. He practically shivered himself to sleep.

Wilderness Innovation / YouTube

After Tyson could no longer take the icy snow cave, he built a tent-like shelter out of tarps and remnants of lumber around his wooden stove — the same device that took all of his belongings and his beloved dog.

bushcraftbartons / YouTube

Tyson realized it was time to redirect his focus on getting rescued. He stomped giant letters in the snow, filling his tracks with black ashes to make them visible from an arial view. He repeated this tedious process several times, as snow continued to fall.


After spelling out S.O.S., he spent days chiseling a path in the snow to a lake near his property where planes could land. He was terrified, but hopeful that help was on its way.

Tyson Steele / Facebook

Eventually, after three grueling weeks enduring Alaska’s harsh temperatures, Tyson looked up to see a helicopter circling above. He frantically waved his arms at the aircraft and soon felt a wave of relief.

As Tyson sat at the Alaska State Troopers’ Aircraft Section Hangar at Lake Hood, a cup of hot coffee warming his hands, rescuers took notice of his grisly appearance. His long hair was matted and damaged, his hands were rough and filthy, and his beard had grown to his chest.


“Really a terrifying prospect, and he just did an amazing job of thinking fast, thinking clearly, acting logically, and, basically, saving his life,” said Ken Marsh.

Alaska Department of Public Safety

While Tyson Steele endured a catastrophic three weeks in the frosty, desolate Alaskan woods near Susitna Valley, he made it out alive, and likely learned a lesson or two. He’d learned how to get by from other survivors’ stories.

Ian Limbaga

It was May 8th, 2019, when 35-year-old physical therapist and yoga instructor Amanda Eller decided to go on a brief walk through Hawaii’s massive Makawao Forest Reserve. It wasn’t exactly a hike for beginners.

Amanda Eller

Covering more than 2,000 acres, the Makawao Forest Reserve is full of arduous ravines, lava rocks, and interwoven ferns and vegetation that often need to be clobbered with machetes to pass through. In a nutshell, don’t take any wrong turns.


Despite these dangers, Amanda entered the forest solo, leaving her cellphone in her car parked directly outside the reserve. This was her first major mistake.


Because at one point during what was supposed to be a quick three-mile hike, Amanda walked off of the trail to rest. But when she recharged enough of her energy to continue, her gut instinct pulled her in an unfamiliar, and perilous, direction.

Maui Now

Well, her instincts unfortunately led her to the middle of the chaotic forest, without a phone, a sense of direction, or a viable path forward. Fear struck, as all she could do was desperately search for the way to her car.

ABC13 Houston

On that first day, Amanda hiked from 10:30 a.m. to about midnight. One day soon became two, and Amanda faced it with just the clothes on her back. Temperatures dipped to the low 60s. Humidity rose. Frequent rain loomed over the forest. She was in for it.


During day three in the forest, Amanda actively searched for water, knowing her car could wait, but hydration could not. She didn’t know if anyone was searching for her — or if anyone even knew she was missing — so she was forced to try her hand at survival.

But just when Amanda thought things couldn’t get worse, the poor woman fell off of a 20-foot cliff in the midst of the forest. She fractured her leg and tore the meniscus in her knee in the process. Wounded, her situation looked even more grave.

Recoil OffGrid

She was losing weight fast, as, besides river water, all she ate were wild strawberry guavas, unidentifiable plants (which is super dangerous, kids), and moths. She was weakening as the days went on, resorting to crawling over walking.

The Reader and the Chef

During the bleak, brisk nights, Amanda kept warm with leaves, ferns, and anything else that could cover her body. She slept in the mud, and during one particular evening, she worked up the nerve to sleep in the den of a wild boar.


What Amanda didn’t know, however, was that people were looking for her. As Amanda eluded the Grim Reaper, a brigade of volunteers searched relentlessly for her. Having found her car containing her phone and wallet, they worried she’d been abducted. Still, they searched on.

ABC Newss

In fact, the search team was so devoted to the mission that they killed wild boars to check their intestines for human remains. That’s dedication at its finest. Remains were not found inside any animals, which was promising news.

With rescue efforts going poorly, however, the yoga instructor’s family was so desperate to find her that they announced a $50,000 reward for information regarding Amanda’s whereabouts. Weeks had passed. It all seemed so hopeless.


But less than an hour after her family announced an award, Amanda finally faced a positive development in her situation. On her 17th day in the thick of the forest, she was scavenging for “dinner” near a stream, when she saw a helicopter.

Of the many helicopters she had spotted, this was the only one that finally spotted her. Realizing she was about to be rescued from her own personal hell, Amanda started sobbing tears of relief and joy. She was in bad shape.

Hawaii News Now

Amanda was 15 pounds lighter, malnourished, filthy, and had leg injuries plus severe burns. But most importantly, she was alive. Calling the horrific experience a “spiritual journey,” she was then airlifted and taken to a hospital, unaware of how close she’d come to never being found.

ABC News

See, Javier Canetellops, the search coordinator who was in the helicopter, said that Amanda was shockingly found in a “treacherous area,” which was miles from where the team was searching. But he had extra motivation to find her.


It turned out that Cantellops, who did tours of duty in Afghanistan and in Iraq, had known Amanda for three years, as she was his physical therapist. After Amanda had assisted with Cantellops’ broken foot, he felt that he owed her help this time.

Amanda E. Eller

“She has been my home,” he said, equating her to a place of comfort. “That is why when this happened, I got super emotional because she’s been my house and I said ‘I have to find her.'” And find her he did, along with the help of the many other gracious volunteers.

USA Today

Later, a grateful Amanda said “I am forever indebted and overwhelmed by the amount of people that came out to help me. It was pretty miraculous.” Still, she had a long road to recover ahead of her.

USA Today

Through it all, she always kept hope, and that’s likely what kept her alive during her unbelievable journey. When hope doesn’t get the job done, however, some lost travelers have turned to an unlikely source to get out of trouble.

Hawaii News Now

Four-year-old Karina Chikitova lived in a remote Siberian village. There, she shared a small home with her father, mother, grandmother, and her dog, Naida. She was about to get very lost.

Siberian Times

See, like most kids her age, Karina was energized by a youthful curiosity, that urge to explore and know and understand. Which was why, in July 2014, she followed her father, Rodion, on an expedition into a part of the Siberian wilderness also known as the taiga.

Now this decision was problematic for a few different reasons. The first reason being that the taiga is very much an animal kingdom, dominated by bears, tigers, and wolves with really sharp teeth and an appetite for people.

The second 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).

Siberian Times

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.

Siberian Times

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.

Huffington Post

“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.”

Siberian Times

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…

Siberian Times

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.

Siberian Times

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.

Siberian Times

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.

Siberian Times

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.

Siberian Times

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.

Siberian Times

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.

Siberian Times

“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.”

Siberian Times

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?

Siberian Times

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.”

Siberian Times

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.