It's a good thing Wolf Wagner and John Hoentsch had planned to spend three weeks in the Canadian wilderness. After crashing their canoe on rapids in Manitoba's Hayes River just 11 days into a planned trip to Hudson Bay, it took the German tourists another 11 days to reach civilization, reports CBC News. Without a satellite phone or functioning canoe, the men realized they'd have to walk north and cross at least six bodies of water to reach the nearest town some 70 miles away, reports the Thompson Citizen. They set off with a tent, compass, GPS, maps, and a single Canadian-made paddle purchased in Germany, expecting to reach the town in four or five days. But wet terrain meant they at first traveled less than 4 miles in eight hours.
As they munched on limited toast and canned soup over the next few days—their wet shoes twice becoming coated in ice at night—the men reminded each other how good their next pizza would taste. "But deep in myself I sometimes thought we are not going to make it," says Wagner, 25. "I think maybe it was the same with [Hoentsch, 26]." When they finally reached a highway on Aug. 6 having lost about 22 pounds each, "we were so happy," he adds. The pair were eventually picked up by a driver who was amazed by their story. The pair flew home five days later but say their struggle through bush and black flies hasn't given them a distaste for Canada's "untouched nature." "It's just the other way around," says Wagner. "We love it much more now."