Amherst Co., VA - It was a long and difficult night for them. But three women - ages 50, 70 and 80 - are okay after being found in the George Washington National Forest in Amherst County Friday.
They are all experienced hikers. But, bad directions sent them down the wrong trail for 12 hours. The women are all in good health. But, during the search, it wasn't looking good.
Amherst County Rescue called in many resources to find them. They searched overnight and again this morning.
They were found just in the nick of time. They had just sips of water left and little food. Fearful they could be lost even longer, they started rationing their food. In the end, they were reunited with their family.
It's the moments rescue crews dream of.
"Wonderful ending. This is the ending we always hope for," said Gary Roakes, Amherst County Public Safety Director.
The three women aren't new to trails. They've already hiked 1,000 miles of the Appalachian Trial. But, never a wrong turn, not like this one.
"Ever experienced anything like this?" we asked.
"No, no," said Janet Morris, hiker.
"The confusion began at mile marker 51 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. That's where Bernard Schwartz, the women's guide and one hiker's husband, sent them down the wrong trail. They should've gone south. Schwartz sent them north.
"Yeah, I had them going in the wrong direction," said Bernard Schwartz.
"As we got further information from him, we realized that no - they were headed in a northern direction," said Roakes.
Fortunately, for Schwartz, the women are taking it easy on him and his mistake.
"You are not mad at him are you?" we asked Sue Morris, hiker.
"No," said Sue.
But, Schwartz isn't so sure.
"You worried you are in trouble?" we asked Bernard.
"Yeah, I'm probably in trouble," said Bernard.
15 hikers searched overnight, 40 Friday morning. All the fuss left the hikers feeling funny.
"It was sort of embarrassing with all the commotion. And the guy who brought me in here, I said, 'They're not.' And he said, 'I'm afraid so. It goes with it,'" said Mary Schwartz, hiker.
"Very happy that the resources were there. Have a lot of faith in this county," said Janet Morris, hiker.
It was a scary 12 hours. But, this was just a wrong turn. These hikers still aren't giving up their dream of walking the entire Appalachian Trail.
"Do you want to make it all the way to Maine too?" we asked.
"Yeah, I plan on it," said Mary.
In the end, it wasn't rescue crews who found the women; it was a couple of truckers. They saw the women sitting on the side of Route 60 and recognized their description from a news report.