Pam Bales: Where is Infinite Storm Hiker Now?

Image Credit: Reader's Digest/Pam Bales

What started as a routine hike for Pam Bales in October 2010 turned into a rescue mission while battling dangerous weather. When Pam encountered footprints in the snow during her hike through Mount Washington State Park in New Hampshire, she knew something wasn’t right. Soon, she came across a man slumped against a boulder in the wilderness and took it upon herself to save him.

It wasn’t until about a week later that Pam learned what the hiker was truly doing up there. ‘Infinite Storm’ is a drama adventure film that portrays this extraordinary story of survival with the talented Naomi Watts playing Pam. So, if you’re wondering where Pam is today, we’ve got you covered.

Who is Pam Bales?

By October 2010, Pam had been volunteering for the Pemigewasset Valley Search and Rescue Team in New Hampshire for a few years. One day that month, she planned to go on a six-hour hike through Mount Washington State Park on her own. The weather was forecasted to be particularly bad later in the morning, so she wanted to finish the hike and get back to her car before that happened. At around 8 AM on October 17, 2010, Pam checked the forecast at the higher summits, and it showed there was a distinct possibility of high-speed winds.

Image Credit: New Hampshire Union Leader/Pam Bales

At the time, Pam was well-prepared, with extra layers of clothing packed and contingency plans in place. As she made her way up, a few hours into the hike, she noticed a single set of footprints made by sneakers. As the weather kept getting worse, Pam followed the footprints suspecting someone was in trouble. Despite the darkness being only a few hours away, she knew she had to check if this person needed help. Pam followed the tracks into the wilderness and came upon a man dressed in sneakers, shorts, a light jacket, and fingerless gloves.

Pam found the man leaning against a boulder, and he didn’t respond to anything she said; he was hypothermic. Pam then stripped him down to his underwear, placing toe warmers on his feet. She decided to call him John. So, Pam dressed John in her warm clothes, put a bivouac sack (lightweight emergency weather protection for sleeping bags) around him, and placed heat packs in his armpits and other body parts. Then, she fed him hot cocoa with electrolytes. Over the next hour or so, John began to feel better, telling her that he had lost his way following the same trail Pam did.

Then, in no uncertain terms, Pam told John they had to head back. But the weather had gotten much worse, and the visibility was low, with Pam having difficulty retracing her steps. At one point, John seemed to give up, asking her to carry on without him, but she pushed him. After about six hours of descent, they reached the parking lot. There, Pam warmed up his clothes using her car’s heater. When she asked John why he didn’t check the weather forecast, he didn’t answer. Instead, John just thanked her and drove off, leaving her bewildered. Are you wondering how life shaped up for Pam after the extraordinary experience?

Where is Pam Bales Now?

About a week after the incident in October 2010, Pam’s search and rescue group president received a letter with a donation. It was from John, who wished to remain anonymous. In the letter, he said that he went up the trail that morning to kill himself when Pam found him. John wrote, “The entire time, she treated me with compassion, authority, confidence, and the impression that I mattered. With all that has been going wrong in my life, I didn’t matter to me, but I did to Pam.”

Image Credit: The Mary Sue/YouTube

Pam later said that she never found out who John was but liked to think he made the most of his second chance. When it came to ‘Infinite Storm,’ Pam was in regular touch with the film crew. In a March 2022 interview, Naomi Watts, who played her in the film, said the hiker helped her learn the mannerisms and other little things like how she packed her backpack. She added that Pam was more than willing to share her story in detail, helping her better understand what happened.

In the same March 2022 interview, Pam said she was impressed with what Naomi brought to the role, adding that she did well to portray the little nuances. Furthermore, Pam had high praise for the actress, saying that when her children watched the trailer, they felt Naomi acted just like her. Pam attended the film’s premiere in New York, where she got to meet the cast and crew in person. Now in her seventies, she lives in Texas with her loved ones and spends about half her week as a patrol volunteer at the national parks in the region.

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