December 28, 2014 07:15 PM

Craig Johnson was on his way to visit family for the holidays on Dec. 15, when his snowmobile fell through the ice in remote Alaska. Half way through an 80-mile journey, he was nowhere near civilization.

Johnson, 38, walked another 30 miles searching for help in icy, frozen clothing – all the while being pursued by a wolverine. “You could hear it on the ice, just playing with me, toying with me,” Johnson told ABC News.

Johnson attempted to scare off the animal with warning shots, eventually resorting to defending himself with a stick. When that failed, he took shelter in a wooden box, which, though it provided a safe haven, may have hidden him from a rescue helicopter that flew overhead as search parties were deployed.

Temperatures soon fell to 35 degrees below zero. “That third night when they passed right by me – not even 200, 300 yards – that’s when I lost hope,” Johnson said. “I just laid back down in that box I was in. It just felt like that was an open grave for me.”

Johnson’s cousin, Clifford Benson, was leading a search team through the area, and he heard Johnson calling for help – fortunate, since the wind and snow had all but removed his tracks from the area. “I’ve never heard someone yell like that anywhere,” Benson told ABC News.

“I almost gave up,” said Johnson, who was treated for frostbite once he returned to civilization. “But I couldn’t give up. I had to do it for my boys, my family,” he said. “I think it’s a miracle that I’m alive.”

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