Hiker survives 4 days in Utah desert without food

Associated Press Published: April 29, 2012

A hiker who endured four days with a broken leg and no food and shelter in the remote southern Utah high desert says her faith and medical background helped her pull through the ordeal.

Victoria Grover, 59, a physician assistant from Wade, Maine, was recovering in a Utah hospital after being rescued Saturday in a rugged section of Dixie National Forest, north of the town of Escalante.

Grover set out on a short day hike Tuesday from Hell's Backbone Road, and broke her leg on the return hike while jumping off a 4-foot ledge about two miles from the trailhead. She then holed up along a creek at an elevation of about 4,500 feet.

"I prayed a lot and derived comfort from it," the Mormon church member told reporters on Sunday. "I thought God would do everything possible to help me overcome my stupidity. I learned from my mother that things can always be worse."

Grover said while she experienced hunger and severe pain, the worst part of the ordeal was the boredom and freezing nighttime temperatures she confronted.

The veteran outdoor enthusiast survived by sleeping in shade during the day and staying awake while curled up in a poncho at night. The poncho helped save her life by serving as a wind breaker, she said, adding it was the only extra warm clothing she carried.

"The hunger is something that comes in waves. You get hungry and want to eat everything and then it goes away," Grover said. "The worst thing is the cold. It never warmed up except for a few hours in the afternoon."

By the final day, she was suffering from hypothermia after shivering uncontrollably for several days.

"The last night I stopped shivering and that's one of the early signs of hypothermia. The last night was the worst," Grover said.

A cold front pushed overnight temperatures to the low to mid 30s throughout most of her ordeal, said Mike Ahlstrom, a member of the Garfield County sheriff's search and rescue team. Daytime highs were in the 50s and low 60s.

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