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Caldwell County woman recounts being lost along Harper Creek Trail with 8-year-old son

She said they had packed a bag full of supplies, but her older son had kept the bag and the only item she had was her car keys.
April Tester and her son Desmond got lost hiking the Harper Creek Trail
Published: Apr. 27, 2022 at 11:27 PM EDT
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CALDWELL COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - April Tester, of Gamewell, and her 8-year-old son, Desmond, are now back home safe and sound after an unplanned overnight stay near a creek bed in Caldwell County.

Tester said she was hiking with her two children along Harper Creek Trail Sunday afternoon. She said she and her younger son split up with her older son and his girlfriend. She explained that she thought she knew the trail they were hiking but ended up making a mistake.

“It got pretty tough and we hiked for five and a half hours crossing back and forth over the river and then it started getting dark and I started getting worried,” said Tester.

She said they had packed a bag full of supplies, but her older son had kept the bag and the only item she had was her car keys.

“I really got scared because I knew we didn’t have anything and there was going to be no light,” explained the Caldwell County mother.

Desmond said he too was getting worried as the sun started to set.

“The part that scared me the most was my mom freaking out,” said the 8-year-old.

The mother-son duo said that as it got colder and too dark to see, they decided to sleep near a creek bed. Tester said she felt helpless.

“Just being a mom and not being able to fix it cause he hadn’t had anything to eat. He was thirsty. I was thirsty and cold. Nothing I could do. Nowhere I could go. I couldn’t keep walking. I couldn’t carry him because I couldn’t see. Nothing I could do,” said Tester.

She said she credits Desmond for calming her down during that dark, chilly night.

“I just told her it’s gonna be okay and that this ain’t the end of the world,” said Desmond.

The little boy was right. Tester said she and her son got little sleep, but they made it through the night. She said that the next day they hiked until they spotted another hiker who then helped them get off the trail.

Tester said that her family members had reported them missing. Search teams and loved ones were ready and waiting for the mother and son when they exited the woods.

“They didn’t have to do that. They just needed to for them and to know that we were okay and that meant a lot to me,” said Tester.

She offered up advice for other casual hikers.

“Honestly, just make sure you’re prepared and know your trails. Download some offline maps,” said Tester.

Both April and Desmond Tester said they plan to take a break from hiking, but will eventually hike again.

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