ROARING GAP, N.C. – Two hikers lost in the rugged North Carolina mountains survived on hard candy and creek water for three nights before they finally found the Blue Ridge Parkway on Monday and waved down a maintenance truck, officials said.
The Miami couple had planned to hike to a waterfall a couple of miles from the parking lot and have a picnic, but they lost the trail, said Charlie Peek of the state Division of Parks and Recreation.
"It's extremely rugged territory, particularly off trail," Peek said.
The Mercedes Benz that Craig Patterson, 44, and Julia Martinez, 35, had been driving Friday morning was found in the parking lot that evening — with the picnic lunch still inside. Searchers spent the weekend combing parts of the more than 20-square-mile park for any sign of the pair, and a Highway Patrol helicopter swept the area.
"They said they got confused and instead of going back down the trail they kept going up," Peek said. "The trail ends in that area and they kept gaining in elevation."
Peek said neither hiker was injured. They were found seven or eight miles from their car and had survived in the woods with simple rations, he said.
"They had a little bit of hard candy and they drank water from a creek," Peek said. "They're in good shape."