A Pennsylvania mom is in stable condition after she made a harrowing trek through the Arizona wilderness to help save her stranded family, hiking more than 20 miles in freezing temperatures.
Karen Klein, 46, was on vacation with her husband and 10-year-old son near Grand Canyon National Park last Thursday when danger struck, the Morning Call reported. Heavy snow stopped the family from driving much further into the park, and when they tried turning around, their vehicle got stuck in a ditch.
There was no civilization for miles, and the family couldn’t get cell service. They were trapped. That’s when Klein, who participates in triathlons and has wilderness survival training, decided to go seek help.
“She would make a decision and she would stick to it and never give up,” Klein’s twin sister Kristen Haase told WFMZ, a station based near the family’s home in eastern Pennsylvania. “She would do it or she would die trying.”
Equipped with a bit of water and food, Klein began her walk while her husband and son waited in the car. The first day, she walked 10 miles toward a main road hoping to flag someone down, but had no luck. A highway sign said she was 14 miles away from the park’s entrance, so she continued on.
On Friday, her husband Eric hiked to higher ground and was finally able to get a cell phone signal. Rescuers arrived and treated the father and son for frostbite. But Klein was still missing.
Klein had run out of food and water, so she began eating twigs and drinking her own urine to survive. She knew not to the eat the snow because it would make hypothermia set in faster.
Klein had hiked 26 miles for 30 hours straight when she finally came upon a closed cabin. She smashed a window, curled up under blankets, and waited six hours before rescuers finally arrived.
“I kept myself awake,” she told NBC News of her time in the cabin. “I just talked to myself and rocked back to stay warm.”
Klein is now recovering and in good spirits, her sister told WFMZ. But she may have to have some of her toes amputated from the blistering frostbite.
“She hiked the last four miles without a shoe on her left foot,” Haase said. “That’s the foot that has all the frostbite on it.”
Klein told NBC that constant thoughts of her family gave her the will to survive.
“I can’t leave my son without a mom,” Klein said. “I can’t leave my husband without a wife. I’m not letting my parents bury me.”