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El Paso Hikers Safe at Home

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POSTED: Wednesday, January 5, 2011 - 5:31pm

UPDATED: Thursday, January 6, 2011 - 10:56am

The stranded El Pasoans rescued from the Gila National Forest of New Mexico yesterday are back home tonight.

Robert and Austin Fritz say they're taking it easy while they recuperate from the freezing temperatures and the initial shock of being rescued.

"When they did turn around it was just such a relief because I was so worried about my son and that's when the floods just go because you can't help it," Robert said.

Robert and Austin Fritz are both happy to be home after spending almost a week stranded in freezing temperatures in the Gila National Forest.
After what was meant to be a five day backpacking trip, the Fritz' got stuck in a blizzard and had no way of getting help.

"I had no idea if anybody had known that we were missing. Because when you're out there you don't have contact with the outside world," Austin said.

Austin got sick and that's when they knew they'd have to set up camps and wait for the snow to melt.

"He was able to keep water down, but we weren't able even after the sun started coming out and melting snow to leave to have him leave the tent," Robert said.

After days of waiting, Austin says hearing one rescue helicopter get closer and closer was like a late Christmas gift.

"Outside the tents I noticed they were starting to circle a little bit. Then I just felt relieved that we were finally going to get out of here," Austin said.

It was Austin's first backpacking trip and he says he'd do it again.

"Eventually, probably not anytime in the next few months, but eventually," Austin said.

Although Robert says you can never be prepared for everything, he's in the market for a personal tracker just in case.

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