Couple Stranded in Snow for a Week Wrote Farewell Letters

Good Morning America

ABC News Videos

Couple Stranded in Snow Wrote Goodbye Letters

Couple Stranded in Snow Wrote Goodbye Letters

Couple Stranded in Snow Wrote Goodbye Letters

Now watching

Next video starts in : 7 Play

Couple Stranded in Snow Wrote Goodbye Letters

Mark and Kristine Wathke were down to their last eight pieces of bread, a few bottles of water and a half a jar of jelly when they realized that they would either freeze or starve to death.

The Cornell., Wis., couple spent six days stranded on Beartooth Highway in Cody, Wyo., where their car had been stuck in a foot of snow before they were found Monday by a local rancher. But after surviving the vacation that nearly killed them, the Wathkes are glad to be home with the loved ones to whom they wrote goodbye letters while stranded on the highway.

RELATED: Couple Missing After Yellowstone Visit Found

"[I] had a little notebook in my purse and then I kind of took each family member and friend and I wrote to them what they meant to me, and just letting them know that I love them," Kris Wathke told ABC News Tuesday.

Their harrowing journey began Oct. 29 as they departed Yellowstone National Park, and were driving to Miles City, Mont., to continue their vacation when their GPS led them to a snowy stretch of Beartooth Highway. The highway is closed during the winter because of its treacherous weather conditions.

"We never saw any road-closed sign, any barricades, anything indicating it was trouble," she said.

But the snow proved to be no match for their new Kia Forte. "Then all of a sudden it went from a little bit of crushed snow, to a foot, foot and a half drifts," Mark Wathke recounted.

With barely any cellphone coverage in the area and no one around to help, the couple tried to fight their way through the tough conditions. They used sand, tree limbs and anything else that could give the tires traction, but all attempts failed. Temperatures plummeted below zero as daylight turned to night.

"I was unpacking everything in our suitcases and piling them on..." he said. "Every pair of pants and T-shirts and sweatshirt."

The couple huddled together in their car and slowly ate the food they had brought for their road trip.

"Once we resolved we were staying there we had eight pieces of bread, nine 15-ounce bottles of water, half a jar of that jelly and then eight packets of oatmeal," he said.

The couple ran the car every four hours to preserve the battery and save gas. Hope was dwindling and that's when his wife decided to write notes to family members she feared she would never see again.

But on Monday, their sixth day spent in frigid temperatures, they finally caught a break. Rancher Troy Barnett, whose wife read on Facebook that the couple was missing, decided to board his snowmobile and look for them.

Wathke said he started to slap his wife's thigh when he heard the snowmobile engine in the distance. Barnett rescued the couple and took them back to his ranch before the Wathkes were reunited with relieved family and friends in Wisconsin.

"And then you get back to your friends and family and you see all these letters and notes and hugs and phones calls," Kris Wathke said, "and it's just so amazing. It's absolutely amazing."

View Comments (135)

Recommended for You

  • Senator Worries Too Many Ineligible People Getting Obamacare Subsidies

    The head of a key congressional homeland security committee said today he's worried the Obama administration's system for denying Obamacare tax credits to ineligible applicants is so lax that it could lead to many undocumented immigrants getting coverage. Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin,…

    Good Morning America19 mins ago
  • Massive Pig Corralled at New Hampshire Polling Station

    One New Hampshire voter this morning wanted to see how the sausage gets made.A massive pig weighing over 600 pounds was corralled today from outside a voting station here in Pelham, New Hampshire, according to the Pelham Police Department.The pig lingered among Granite State voters, who were just…

    Good Morning America12 mins ago
  • Zika Virus May Be Linked to Infant Eye Abnormalities, Study Says

    The Zika virus may be associated with another birth defect in infants, according to a new study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association Ophthalmology. Researchers from Brazil found that some infants exposed to the virus had ocular defects including atrophied retinas,…

    Good Morning America59 mins ago
  • 18-Year-Old Kidney Transplant Survivor Gets Renovated Truck Thanks to Make-A-Wish

    Strangers from around the country came together to make over a pickup truck for an 18-year-old kidney transplant survivor. Nick Cesarini, of Greenwich, Connecticut, was surprised with the truck Saturday in a reveal so dramatic his twin sister flew home from college to attend it. “I was blown…

    Good Morning America
  • Kelly Rowland Reveals What She's Learned From Beyonce’s Mom

    It's been nearly 20 years since singer Kelly Rowland launched on the scene as a member of one of music's prominent girl groups: Destiny's Child. However, Rowland has worked hard to do just that. The 34-year-old singer, who married her manager Tim Witherspoon in 2014, gave birth to their son Titan…

    Good Morning America
  • Maryland Man Is Swamped With Texts Demanding Free Chipotle Burritos

    After mandatory employee meetings temporarily closed more than 2,000 Chipotle restaurants for a few hours on Monday, Chipotle ran a promotion to make it up to their customers. In Maryland, customers who mistakenly added an extra “2” to that number had their messages redirected to Hank Levine.

    Good Morning America
  • Dad Writes School Note Excusing Daughters' Tardiness Because of a Bruce Springsteen Concert

    In a major Dad-move win, Patrick Pipino of Saratoga Springs, New York, penned an honest note excusing his daughters' school tardiness because the family attended a Bruce Springsteen concert on Monday night. Pipino told ABC News that his two daughters, Isabelle, 12, and Sarah, 7, are both huge…

    Good Morning America
  • Syrian Couple's Wedding Photos Amid Ruins of Homs Prove 'Life Is Stronger Than Death'

    Photos of the 18-year-old bride, Nada Mehri, and the 27-year-old Syrian army soldier groom, Hassan Youssef, were taken by professional photographer Jafar Meray Friday, according to international news agency Agence France-Presse. A large portion of Homs, Syria's third largest city, was destroyed…

    Good Morning America
  • Cam Newton Defends His Decision to Walk Out of the Post-Super Bowl Press Conference

    Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton defended his decision to walk out of the Super Bowl's post-game press conference after his team's loss to the Denver Broncos. "I've got no more tears to cry," Newton said according to ESPN. A Broncos player could be heard boasting about his team's win as…

    Good Morning America
  • Samuel L. Jackson Recounts Racist Moment as a Young Actor

    Samuel L. Jackson said he'll always remember this one incident that happened when he was starting his career in Hollywood. He continued "There we were, lying facedown in the middle of Santa Monica Boulevard. "I was thinking to myself, I’m in Hollywood now, on the verge of breaking through, and…

    Good Morning America
  • Rapper DMX Rushed to Hospital After Asthma Attack, Says Lawyer

    DMX was rushed to a Yonkers, New York, hospital last night after an apparent asthma attack, his lawyer Murray Richman told ABC News. The rapper, born Earl Simmons, was at a local Ramada at the time of the incident, according to both his lawyer and the manager of the hotel, Hari Shukla. Richman…

    Good Morning America
  • Royal Caribbean Passenger Recounts Terrifying 12 Hours on Cruise Ship

    One passenger on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship that was rocked by hurricane-force winds said she was afraid for her life as the boat tipped side to side and she lay in bed shaking.Guests on the Anthem of the Seas ship were asked to stay in their rooms Sunday as wind gusts topped 76 miles per hour…

    Good Morning America10 mins ago
  • Incredible Footage Shows Pedestrian Tripping Suspect as He's Running From Police

    Officers were on patrol in Kingston, United Kingdom, on Saturday when they were made aware of a report of two males dealing drugs, police said in a statement. The officers chased one of the suspects through the town center "when they received some unexpected assistance from a member of the…

    Good Morning America
  • Hong Kong 'Fish Ball Revolution' Erupts in Violent Crackdown

    Violent clashes erupted overnight in Hong Kong after protesters defended unlicensed food vendors, set up for Chinese New Year celebrations, from being shut down by police. The group said on its official Facebook page that its candidate for local council, Edward Leung Tin-kei, had been arrested.

    Good Morning America
  • Brie Larson Hasn't Seen or Spoken to Her Dad in 10 Years

    Brie Larson is up for an Oscar for her emotionally-wrenching performance of a woman held captive in a garden shed for seven years in the film "Room."Some of the inspiration for her performance, the 26-year-old actress told Elle in a new interview, comes from her own life and difficult childhood.…

    Good Morning America
  • Sylvester Stallone Says He Considered Boycotting the Oscars

    The topic of diversity in Hollywood and within the Academy was addressed by several stars Monday at the Oscar nominees luncheon in Beverly Hills. Sylvester Stallone, a best supporting actor contender for "Creed," made headlines by saying he was open to the idea of boycotting the upcoming Oscars…

    Good Morning America
  • 'Fuller House' Cast Reveals First Official Trailer on 'Ellen'

    The official trailer for "Fuller House" is reminding everyone that family is forever."Fuller House" stars Candace Cameron Bure, Jodie Sweetin and Andrea Barber appeared on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" to discuss the upcoming "Full House" reboot. The first official trailer for the Netflix original…

    Good Morning America