A Scottish mountain man known locally as the “Hermit of Loch Treig” is lucky to be alive after his distress beacon was picked up in Texas after he fell ill in a remote forest area in the Highlands.
Ken, whose last name has not been published, is in seventies and had been living for off-the-grid for more than 25 years in a cabin he built.
Once a week, he activated a high-tech SPOT personal satellite tracker and messenger system to send a signal to his friends and family back in civilization that he was OK. But when he felt dizzy and weak, he activated the S.O.S. beacon on his device for the first time ever in a hopeful attempt to reach someone to send urgent help.
The distress beacon eluded authorities in the United Kingdom, but was picked up by the International Emergency Response Coordination Center in Houston—some 9,000 miles away—which scans the airwaves for such calls.
The folks in Houston immediately notified U.K. officials. Her Majesty’s Coast Guard sent seven men by helicopter to find the ailing hermit. Unable to see through the thick forest cover, they alerted the Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team, which was then able to reach the hermit’s cabin on foot. The rescue team then helped the Coast Guard airlift Ken to safety, according to British press reports.
“An unwell man living in a very remote area of Scotland was rescued by HM Coastguard helicopter after his distress signal was picked up in Houston, Texas,” Neil Blewett, a spokesman for the H.M. Coast Guard told The Daily Telegraph.
“What must seem a very long way round for an alert to reach us is actually very quick thanks to satellite technology that we use. In this case, the man’s activation of his beacon, the satellites, and the SPOT beacon itself saved his life because without any of those we would not have known he needed urgent help.”
Around 1.7 billion people live off the grid worldwide, according to Home Power magazine, which means they don’t use public provided utilities like electricity, water, sewage service, or connected natural gas or heat. Instead, they rely only on geothermal or solar energy, local water sources and, in the case of the Hermit of Loch Treig, a little bit of good luck to survive.