Caldwell County woman says she got lost along Harper Creek Trail with her 8-year-old son

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CALDWELL COUNTY, NC (WBTV) – Gamewell’s April Tester and her 8-year-old son, Desmond, are now safely home after a unexpected night near a creek bed in Caldwell County.

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

“It got quite difficult and we walked for five and a half hours crossing the river and then it started to get dark and I started to worry,” Tester said.

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

“I was really scared because I knew we had nothing and there would be no light,” the Caldwell County mother said.

Desmond said he too was starting to worry as the sun began to set.

“What scared me the most was that my mum freaked out,” the 8-year-old said.

The mother-son duo said that since it was colder and too dark to see, they decided to sleep near a stream bed. The tester said she felt helpless.

“Just being a mum and not being able to fix it because he hadn’t had anything to eat. He was thirsty. I was thirsty and cold. I couldn’t do anything. Nowhere I could go. I couldn’t keep walking. I couldn’t wear it because I couldn’t see. I couldn’t do anything,” Tester said.

She said she thanks Desmond for calming her down that dark and cold night.

“I just told him it’ll be fine and it’s not the end of the world,” Desmond said.

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

Tester said his family members reported them missing. Search parties and relatives were ready and waiting for the mother and son when they emerged from the woods.

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

She offered advice to other casual hikers.

“Honestly, make sure you come prepared and know your trails. Download offline maps,” Tester said.

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

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