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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Interview with hikers, Max Margolis, Jennifer Skoog

Aired May 28, 2003 - 20:02   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We begin this hour with an ending and a happy one at that. After two days of being stranded in the rugged mountians of southwestern Washington state, six hikers are now safe. The trip was supposed to be just a day long. But when the hikers didn't show up for work yesterday, their co-workers got a little worried and the search was on.
So how did the hikers survive before a Coast Guard helicopter came to the rescue?

We're joined by two of them right now, Max Margolis and Jennifer Skoog joining us live from Portland, Oregon.

Appreciate you both coming in. We are very glad to see you in more ways than one.

Jennifer, let's start with you. You've been through an incredible ordeal.

How are you both doing?

JENNIFER SKOOG, RESCUED HIKER: We've been good. We're just happy to be back and be eating food and stuff. It's pretty nice.

COOPER: Yes, food is always a good thing.

Max, when did you know that things were going wrong on the hike?

MAX MARGOLIS, RESCUED HIKER: I would say memorial day monday at 7:00 when we lost the trail and we decided to set up a makeshift camp down to the canyon.

COOPER: There were six of you.

Did you all know each other ahead of time?

MARGOLIS: I knew -- no, we did not. I knew Tim and Alicia, the other hikers, pretty well. I did not know Rusty and his wife at all.

COOPER: So you've been out for how many hours once you lost -- when you lost the trail?

MARGOLIS: Probably about 10 hours?

COOPER: All right. And Jennifer, what happened once you lost the trail, then what did you decide?

SKOOG: Well, for a while we really weren't sure we lost it. We thought we might be able to find it again. We were following some flags that didn't really mark the trail, I guess. And then we just figured that, we'd try and find it.

COOPER: And then you know, I guess night came and -- I mean, obviously, you realized you were in trouble at some point. What happened? What did you do until the point you actually got rescued?

MARGOLIS: Well, we had a very resourceful team of people with us. And the first night we set up camp they made shelter and people got firewood, and we all snuggled together. And we decided to wake up the next day and follow the river, which was unsuccessful the following morning. And then as a team we all moved up to a high ridge that we just discovered. We have no idea how we found it. And we decided to set up camp there. And everyone agreed upon it. And we set up two fires going, one at the edge of the cliff to be a signal fire, and we had other people there that could build shelters and do things. So we set up that sort of system and just decided to stay put.

COOPER: And I guess was it a helicopter that you first saw when you realized you were going to be rescued, and if so, what went through your mind?

SKOOG: Well, at first we just heard it and we were just hoping it would come around and actually see us. Because we had heard a lot of airplanes on Monday but they were probably just like, I don't know, passenger planes, they weren't looking for anyone.

COOPER: It's got to be just an amazing relief.

Are you two going to go hiking again anytime soon?

MARGOLIS: Yes. Definitely. But we will bring waterproof matches for sure.

SKOOG: And a tent and sleeping bags and a lot of stuff.

COOPER: That sounds like a wise idea, I think. Waterproof matches would be a very good start.

Appreciate you joining us, Max Margolis, and Jennifer Skoog. Appreciate it a lot. It was good to talk to you. Thank you.

MARGOLIS: Thank you.

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