Heavy Hiker Survives Month in Woods

(Ouray) When Maxwell Belino went into the San Juans for a short hike in May he weighed in at just over 280 pounds. Today he’s slimmed down by almost one hundred pounds, shed during his curious excursion. Armed with only fishing gear and a cheap tent Belino somehow managed to survive for almost 30 days in the bush, successfully enduring late season snows, freezing nighttime temperatures and grumpy black bears waking from their hibernation.

According to rescue team sources the ragged Belino will recover in short order and although he has suffered from dehydration is in pretty good shape. Family members expressed relief at his deliverance.

“For a flatlander the guy showed a lot of common sense,” said one rescuer. “He learned to live off the land and never panicked even when the crows ate his tent and he ran out of salmon eggs.”

Belino lived on a diet of tree bark and salmon eggs for the first two weeks and then, craving protein he fashioned primitive weapons with which to hunt for prey. Perhaps the happiest day of that otherwise dark period came when he knocked two crows out of the sky with one rock from his sling-shot. 

“We don’t call them (salmon eggs) Rocky Mountain caviar for nothing,” said an attending physician praising the nutritional value of fish products. “Along with the eggs our patient made soup from bark, salads from leaves and munched on unsuspecting insects. Oddly enough he seems to have leaned on all the food groups. The fat free diet afforded him the opportunity to drop down to a more manageable weight class.”

According to family members Belino’s biggest problem was the lack of reading material to help him through the long nights up high. The sun was relentless during the day and the winds picked up at night making adequate shelter a main concern.

“I wandered around during the daylight hours looking for a sign, a path, some sense of my past life,” said Belino. “Often I got lost again and could not always be sure I’d find another cave or rock outcropping in which to sleep. Suddenly I realized I had been going in circles and that, most likely, after two weeks, the search had been called off. That’s when I chose life over death and began making it a priority to find comfort in the wilds.”

Then on May 12 Belino managed to signal a hang glider who called police and the now skinny hiker was plucked from the forest. At the time of the rescue, he was only 2 miles from Highway 550 in the vicinity of Corkscrew Pass.

“If I’d only kept walking I might have been able to flag down a trucker or snowplow,” he said, “but I was all turned around. I knew east from west all right but I couldn’t determine exactly where I was at a given time so I just kept walking.”

Already his Alpine Diet has received rave reviews and at least three major publishers have made lucrative offers for Belino’s story. In addition, the local media has pegged him a bonafide hero. He plans to write a combination mountaineering/cookbook as well as produce a series of maps highlighting his trek.

“It’s a sad state of affairs when stupidity of this type is so heavily rewarded,” said one officer on the scene. “If he would have stayed home watching TV like a normal person none of this would have happened.”    

– Uncle Pahgre  

Filed Under: Reflections on Disorder

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