This mother toughed out a 30-mile trek to find help after her family’s car got stuck in snow at the Grand Canyon.
A mother intent on finding help for her husband and 10-year-old son nearly died from exposure after their car became stuck in the snow outside the Grand Canyon’s north rim.
Last Thursday, Karen Klein and her family were driving from Southern Utah to Las Vegas when they decided to do a little sight seeing. They hit the Grand Canyon National Park’s north rim when they encountered snow-covered roads.
Deciding it was best to head back, their vehicle became stuck as they tried to turn around. After discussing options with her husband, Eric Klein, the couple decided they had to find help before conditions worsened.
Karen, a marathon runner and triathlon competitor, decided she was best suited to make the 10-mile hike back to the main road.
With no winter gear, she wore only a parka, knit cap, and hiking boots when she set out.
After a few hours, she reached the highway, only to find it was closed due to snow.
Karen then noticed a sign showing the Grand Canyon park entrance was 14 miles away, and despite freezing conditions, she decided to go for it.
During her strenuous hike, she ran out of food and water. Resorting to some wilderness survival training she had received, she ate aspen twigs and, knowing the snow would lower her core temperature faster, she drank her own urine.
During the hike, she pulled a groin muscle and began facing advanced stages of hypothermia including hallucinations. Through it all, she kept going.
“I can’t leave my son without a mom,” Karen told NBC News. “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.”
After walking 30 straight miles, she found an empty cabin. She busted out the window to get inside before passing out on a bed under some blankets.
Eric became worried after so much time had passed with no help arriving. He left their son in the car and managed walk 15 miles to get a cell signal Friday evening. He called for help and emergency teams quickly responded.
Six hours after the call, they found Karen lying in the unheated cabin. She was rushed to a local hospital, where she was treated for exposure and severe cold hand injuries.
Eric and their son were also treated for minor frostbite, but all are expected to make full recoveries.
Only hours after they were rescued, a blizzard tore through the area. If they would have been any later, rescue attempts would have been impossible.