Dexter Teen Defies Odds with Miraculous Rescue in Glacier National Park


Matthew Read surrounded by family. Photo courtesy of Barbara Read.

In a dramatic rescue on Monday night, May 8th, Matthew David Read, a 19-year-old hiker from Dexter, was discovered safe after going missing in Glacier National Park. The rescue operation was executed by Two Bear Air Rescue, who found and airlifted him to safety.

“We just thought that he was gone, and we were comforting each other in our sorrow. And then we got this phone call... and we just started screaming and hugging each other,” Charlotte, Read's sister, told the Daily Inter Lake.

Read, a chemical engineering student at Brigham Young University in Utah, had been reported missing on Sunday, after embarking on a hike along the Huckleberry Lookout Trail on Friday, May 5th.

Glacier National Park is an expanse of untouched wilderness known for its rugged and diverse terrain. Spanning over a million acres, the park is home to soaring, jagged mountain peaks, some reaching well over 10,000 feet. These peaks, remnants of centuries of glacial activity, form a stunning backdrop that defines the park's skyline.

Image: Google

This challenging terrain is further complicated by the region's heavy snowfall. Many trails and high passes remain snow-covered well into the summer months, posing an additional challenge for hikers and adventurers.

The Huckleberry Lookout Trail is an “out and back” trail that ascends 2,735 feet over 5.8 miles to the summit of Huckleberry Mountain. The round trip is 11.6 miles.
describes the Huckleberry Lookout Trail as “a challenging route.” The estimated time to hike the 11.6 miles is 6.25 hours in summer. The initial 4.2 miles of the trail navigates across predominantly south-facing terrain. It then takes a turn, crossing a saddle into the north-facing terrain. The final 1.6-mile stretch to the summit mainly comprises a colder, shadier, and higher northerly terrain where snowpack tends to linger into summer.

In his attempt to navigate these conditions, Read encountered a snowfield covering the trail and slipped into an unnamed drainage on the east side of Huckleberry Mountain. His descent into chest-deep snow led to him losing his phone, water bottle, and shoes, according to Gina Kerzman, a Glacier National Park spokeswoman.

SAR map showing the trail, search quadrants, and where Matthew was found. Courtesy of Barbara Read.

Park rangers initiated a ground-based search for Read on Sunday night, soon joined by North Valley and Flathead Search and Rescue, Flathead County Sheriff's deputies, U.S. Border Patrol agents, and Whitefish-based Two Bear Air Rescue. On Sunday, Rob Cherot, a Two Bear Air Rescue pilot, located tracks in the snow presumed to be Read's but couldn't locate him due to poor weather conditions. On Monday, using an infrared camera system, Read was finally found by the Two Bear Air crew in dense timber and was airlifted to safety around 10:30 p.m. reports the Missoulian.

Despite his ordeal, Read employed survival skills he had learned as an Eagle Scout to keep himself alive in the harsh wilderness conditions. He attempted to build shelters and stayed close to water, tactics that the U.S. Border Patrol agent on the scene said contributed significantly to his survival.

Matthew Read with members of the SAR and family. Photo courtesy of Barbara Read.

"He fell off the trail and slid down the snow in a steep area and actually lost his shoes and couldn't get back up. But that was Friday when that happened, so he spent till Monday night out. He had a backpack and a little windbreaker, but shorts and stuff. He's pretty lucky,” Two Bear Air Pilot Rob Cherot told the Missoulian.

His mother, Barbara, told the Daily Inter Lake that her son used his Eagle Scout training. She remembers how he enjoyed the “Polar Bear Camp Out” when he was younger. He preferred to camp in the wintery outdoors while the rest of the troop stayed in a cabin. Barbara credits the skills he learned as a scout aided him in his plight.

According to Glacier National Park spokeswoman Gina Kerzman, Read was only "somewhat responsive" when he was found. Matthew Read is currently recovering and receiving treatment for frostbite at Logan Health. The family is working to have him flown to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for further treatment.

In a video message, Read expressed his gratitude towards everyone who assisted in his rescue and those who helped him medically. "For all the people who have prayed for me, I just cannot say enough from the bottom of my heart, how thankful I am for all of you," Read said. "Thank you."

For information, read the articles in the Missoulian
article and the Daily Inter Lake.

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