ELMORE COUNTY -- The snowmobiler who went missing in Elmore County Sunday was found alive and well Tuesday morning.
Col. Tim Marsano with the Idaho Air National Guard said they found 54-year-old Craig Noll of Boise during a helicopter search shortly after 8:30 a.m.
Noll had been missing in the Bennett Mountain area, about 30 miles northeast of Mountain Home, since Sunday afternoon. He was snowmobiling with two friends Sunday when they became separated in fog and heavy snow.
There was a glimmer of hope Monday when searchers were able to pinpoint Noll's location using a cell phone signal. But they were forced to call off the search Monday night due to white-out conditions.
After two days of searching for him in low visibility, blowing snow and freezing temperatures, rescuers finally caught a break in the weather Tuesday morning.
The story of Noll's survival doesn't just speak of blinding snow and 60 mph winds, but also a trio of wolves that watched his every move.
It's unbelievable, absolutely unbelievable, said Elmore County Deputy Kevin Henslee
Sitting in the comfort and warmth of a waiting ambulance at base camp, Noll recalled his harrowing tale of survival that started Sunday morning when he and two friends arrived in the Bennett Mountain area to go snowmobiling.
The visibility wasn't very good so we sat in the truck a while, and decided since we drove so far we decided we'd take the snowmobiles down this one road we saw, said Noll.
It is a road the three men knew well.
Once we got in farther, the weather broke up, so we went in a little further, said Noll.
But the weather got worse. It started to snow and the visibility was reduced to almost zero.The men decided it was time to turn back, but in the confusion of the storm, one man got separated from the group. Noll and the other friend decided to continue on, hoping their friend wasn't far behind.
We were just going to back-track and follow our tracks back because we knew this wasn't pretty, said Noll.
Minutes later Noll looked back and couldn't see his second friend.
I didn't know what happened to him, he said. So as I start coming around on this hill to go back and find out what happened to him, my snowmobile rolled down the hill.I decided that I was going to be there for the night. That's when it all started.
He built a shelter in a tree well, but quickly learned he wasn't alone in the woods.
I noticed there were a couple of wolves running around some trees over there, I walked back about 500 yards, started setting up my shelter under this tree and these three wolves were about 50 yards away just sitting there watching, just watching the whole thing you know, said Noll.
Noll says the wolves never got any closer but it was enough to lead to some restless nights.
On Tuesday morning, after spending two nights, cold and hungry in the woods, he heard an approaching chopper.
Elation, it was a pretty good feeling, he said.
Noll says the rescue couldn't have come at a better time because the bitter cold and whipping wind were starting to take their toll.
The real problem I had occurred last night in that severe storm up there where I had three pairs of gloves, all three were frozen, they were all frozen as a result of that storm last night, said Noll. The temperatures plummeted, I had snow blowing through my shelter, it was just a mess. So the timing of the helicopter was very good, because I did not want to go through another night out there without gloves.
Surprisingly, after getting checked out by paramedics, Noll was released and allowed to go home.
He was hungry and tired, but healthy and in great spirits.
He joked that because he had to be lifted to safety, leaving his snowmobile behind, he's ready to purchase a new one and get back out to the mountains.