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Lost woodsman hunts his way home

For Steve Ingram, a hunting trip that was supposed to last a few hours Monday morning turned into a more than 30-hour excursion.

The 56-year-old Silver Bay man got lost in the woods, walked many unexpected miles, slept under a tree with his dog, portaged across a few lakes with a church group and hitched a ride back to civilization early Tuesday evening. In the meantime, the Lake County Sheriff's Office had launched a search for Ingram with assistance from the Two Harbors, Silver Bay and Finland rescue squads.

Officials began searching for Ingram in the area east of Ely and north of Isabella at about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Ingram went hunting on the Pow Wow Trail near Isabella Lake at 9 a.m. Monday, said Brandon McGaw, a conservation officer who spoke with Ingram afterward.

Ingram planned to stay on the trail and connect with another trail that led back to his vehicle in two or three hours, but he said he "got turned around," said McGaw and Ingram's wife, Kay.

With a map, Ingram walked until nightfall Monday and then slept under a fir tree with Henry, a springer spaniel, for warmth.

On Tuesday morning, he continued to walk until he met some canoeists from a church group, who fed them and invited them to portage across a few lakes in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. After that, Ingram caught a ride to Ely and telephoned relatives in Babbitt about 6 p.m. Tuesday.

"He did everything right. He kept his head," McGaw said. "He stayed on the trail for the most part. ... He said he wished he would have thrown a candy bar in his coat beforehand."

Kay Ingram rushed back from a Tuesday business trip in Wisconsin.

"The plan was to go into the woods for a couple of hours and come home," she said Tuesday night. "I'm just grateful to everybody. Everybody came forward to help find him. You see it on the news all the time, and you don't think it will happen to you, especially to someone that has so much experience in woods.

"He has been running trap lines since he was 11," Kay Ingram said. "He usually is just phenomenal in the woods. I got worried."