Mother hikes 26 miles in freezing weather to rescue her family

Karen Klein, an Easton, Pennsylvania, mother on vacation with her husband and their son, decided to go on a hiking trip with her family, but what she experienced wasn’t what she expected, to say the least.

Klein, 47, was on vacation in Las Vegas with her husband, Eric, 47, and their son, Isaac, 10, when they decided to take a Dec. 22 trip to Bryce Canyon and then to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Shortly into their trip, they learned the State Route 67 to the North Rim was closed for the season. When they used a smartphone GPS to find an alternate route, the phone sent them to an impassible forest road, leaving the car trapped in the mud in the middle of a blizzard.

With no cell phone reception, Klein was forced to walk some 26 miles in the frozen wilderness.

“I can’t leave my son without a mom,” she told NBC’s “Today” Tuesday. “I can’t leave my husband without a wife. I’m not letting my parents bury me. I was determined that this is not how my life is going to end.”

Klein was rescued early Saturday morning, but not before she was forced to brave the harsh conditions for 30 hours.

“It was decided that there is a main road up ahead, and I have professional and recreational experience, a lifelong [experience] in the outdoors, so I said, ‘I’ll just go, I’ll just walk up to the main road, I can do this, I’m a runner,’” she said, recalling her experience.

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Doing her best to stay alive and awake in the frozen temperatures, Klein relied on aspen limbs for food and snow for water.

“It got to be about 1:30 in the morning and at this point I had walked about 26 miles, so I kept myself awake,” she said. “I just talked to myself and rocked back to stay warm.”

Ultimately, according to NBC, Klein was found thanks to her husband, who hiked 15 miles in order to get strong enough cell phone reception to call for help:

Around the same time he and Isaac were rescued on Friday morning, an exhausted Karen was battling frostbite after breaking a window to get inside an empty park ranger station.

Klein was eventually found by rescuers a day later on a bed in the cabin, unable to stand up while battling frostbite in her fingers and toes. She was airlifted to Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, Utah, where she is recovering.

Just a few hours after Klein was rescued, a major winter storm swept through the area. Officials said the storm would have made it impossible to rescue her.

“It’s just starting to sort of sink in,” she said, now recovering at the hospital. “It still feels somewhat surreal.”

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