Miyuki Harwood was lost in the Sierra Nevada wilderness for nine days with broken bones in her lower leg, but was still able to survive the ordeal thanks to her incredible will to survive.
The 62-year-old went missing close to two weeks ago during a hiking trip in a remote part of the Sierra National Forest, the Sacramento Bee reported. Alone and injured — Harwood suffered a broken leg after being separated from her hiking group — the woman was facing high odds to return.
Members of her Sierra Club hiking group tried to find her, but could not. Harwood’s friend, Curtis Hendrickson, said it was her first time hiking with the group.
But Harwood is a veteran hiker, knowledgeable of the wilderness, and she called on that expertise during her nine-day affair.
Authorities said Miyuki Harwood crawled for two days so she could reach a creek, then scooped some water into a filtered canteen to keep herself alive.
Search crews combed the forest looking for her, but the team of more than 50 people was slowed by the smoke caused by wildfires nearby in Kings Canyon National Park.
Eventually, they were able to locate Harwood, thanks to a whistle the hiker had with her. She was airlifted to safety.
“She was a fighter,” Rusty Hotchkiss, a California Highway Patrol flight officer, told the Independent. It was Hotchkiss who airlifted Harwood to the hospital.
“She was very exhausted — very tired, but she was very thankful to be saved and to get out of there,” he added.
Family members said Miyuki underwent surgery and was focusing on recovering from her ordeal.
“Miyuki desires, above all else, uninterrupted rest and quiet,” family members said in a statement. “The best way to express your care and concern is to be patient and delay all means of contacting her.”
Aside from her broken leg, Harwood faced other challenges during her nine-day ordeal. Though temperatures hit the mid 70s to low 80s in the park during the day, temperatures this time of year can dip into the high 40s at night.
Many others have not been as lucky as Miyuki Harwood. Other hikers have died in the often difficult terrain of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, including a California teacher who fell to his death while on a hike in 2013. Esther Suen was hiking as part of a 10-day “Sierra Challenge,” which include hikes to 10 different peaks, when she fell close to 200 feet.
[Picture by David McNew/Getty Images]