Two teenage girls who went missing during a camping trip in Algonquin Park were found safe yesterday, bringing an end to a search that involved nearly 100 people through the weekend.
Ontario Provincial Police said Marta Malek and Maya Mirota, both 16, were found “alive and well” not far from a trail where they were last seen on Thursday.
“We couldn't have asked for a better ending to this story,” said OPP spokesman Bill Dickson.
An OPP canine unit found the teens around noon yesterday, less than two kilometres away from where they were last spotted on the Western Uplands Trail, between Rainbow Lake and Susan Lake.
“The area that we're dealing with is rugged, rugged terrain and thick, thick trees,” said Dickson.
“You could be virtually next to someone and not even know they're there.”
The teens, who are both from Kitchener, Ont., were reported missing around 10 p.m. on Friday after failing to meet up with a larger group as planned.
Police said the girls had made it about a quarter of the way toward their destination when they realized they had left their trail and were lost
Algonquin Park, which covers 7,653 square kilometres, is the third largest provincial park in Ontario, and can be difficult to navigate for even the most experienced campers who go off-route, Dickson said.
“It can be easy to take a wrong trail or get disoriented if you get off the trail and then try to get back to where you were," he said. "We always teach the kids that if you get lost in the woods, stop moving.”
Police said the girls relied on their outdoor education and heeded advice to stay put after realizing they were lost.
The air and ground search for the girls, which involved police, park wardens, members of the Ontario Search and Rescue Association, specially trained civilians and the Ministry of Natural Resources, began on Saturday.
An OPP helicopter and a float plane from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forests also took part in the search, police said.
Dickson noted that the two girls were well-equipped for the elements.
“They had a tent, they had some camping supplies, they had some food," Dickson said. "They would've had changes of clothing, some warmer clothing for when the temperature dips down at night, and in reality it's not like it's the middle of winter.”
Police said the girls were reunited with their families yesterday.