DailyMail- A Texas woman who spent five days stranded near the Grand Canyon was found on Friday thanks to her superb survival skills.
Amber VanHecke, 24, had planned to spend some of her Spring Break hiking – but found her endurance put to an even greater test when her car ran out of gas near the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
‘It’s a very remote area,’ rescuer Jonah Nieves said, according to azcentral.com. ‘You think of the Grand Canyon, you’re thinking big trees, grass. There’s nothing.
‘It’s like the Sahara Desert. It’s just empty.’
On March 10, VanHecke posted a photo of herself and her vehicle – stuffed with preparations – on Facebook with the message ‘Bye Texas! I’ll see you in ten days.’
Two days later her frequent Facebook posts dried up. She had vanished.
In a post on Facebook on Saturday she explained that she had followed a Google Maps direction that led her down a road that didn’t exist.
After driving off-road, her GPS died and she burned through her fuel trying to find it again. By the time she had found the road, she was hopelessly stranded.
For the next five days, VanHecke – alone, with dwindling supplies of food and water and in very real danger of dying – could only wait for help to arrive.
But Nieves said that her ingenuity helped protect her. ‘She ran out of gas … but she was a survivor,’ he said. ‘She did a lot of things that helped her survive.’
VanHecke rationed out her limited supplies of food and water, ensuring that she would be able to keep going – and had 16-18 days of her rations left when she was found.
After a truck drove down the road, missing her entirely, she built a barricade across the lane.
She made 10-foot-tall ‘SOS’ and 30-foot-tall ‘HELP’ signs on the ground out of rocks, and flashed her headlamp into the sky at night.
Most importantly, when she attempted to get a phone signal by leaving her car and walking down the road on March 17, she left notes telling anyone who found the car to go for help.
She managed to get a call through to the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office on her cell phone – which she had charged using her car battery – but the signal cut out before she could give them the exact location.
So when Nieves – who is an Air Rescue pilot with the Department of Public Safety – spotted her empty vehicle glinting in the sunlight after 40 minutes in the air, the notes she left behind were vital.
‘If she didn’t leave notes, then you’re like, “Is this the person we’re looking for?”‘ he said. ‘There are a lot more questions up in the air.’
He found VanHecke shortly afterwards by the side of the road, waving to his helicopter. She had hiked a total of 21-22 miles to get the signal, she later said.
VanHecke was crying with joy when Nieves found her, and was taken to a hospital, where she was given the all-clear.
Although she said she had ‘trauma’ from her terrifying experience, VanHecke was whimsical about her misadventure when she posted her adventures on Facebook.
‘On the bright side I guess I got to cross riding in a helicopter off of my bucket list,’ she wrote.
On some levels I can identify with this girl. I too am a guy that enjoys the outdoors to a degree. Love hiking mountains and taking in the views and the fresh air. Take in the scenery with a nice breeze you know? It’s refreshing. But this girl has some shit backwards and the internet is giving her a round of applaud for her survival skills or lack there of and its annoying.Lets start with the first thing, the trip in general.
She spent her Spring Break Hiking? What does that even mean? you get what one week, two weeks max of spring break? Has to be two cause you’d be insane to burn you’re whole week outside where there’s scorpions and rattle snakes waiting to kill you. In all honesty she should be dead. I would bring enough rations for 1 night. Spend one night there with a bon fire going and a shotgun in one hand so you live through the night to get back to civilization tomorrow. But that wasn’t the case, she brought enough food to last out there, which is in fact calling to question if this is one big stunt to go viral. Bring enough food to last through 2 weeks but only enough fuel to get you a quarter of the way there. Its a little suspect don’t you think.
My second gripe isn’t actually on her, its with the rescue guy unless she thought the same but he went on to say people think the Grand Canyon is tall trees and grass. Who the fuck thinks that? Have they never used a google search before?
None of that looks green. It all looks like dirt. Very dry dirt and rocks. Has she not seen 127 Hours? Sure its scenic out there but there’s a strong change you’ll get stranded and get your arm wedged between a boulder. God willing if you have a pocket knife with you, you’re gonna have to make the decision whether or not to cut your own arm off. That’s just one of the few possibilities in the desert and grand canyon which really begs people to wonder why the fuck she chose here to go solo. Maybe pick like a lush green mountain that’s thriving with life in case you end up in a situation where you’re stranded because you didn’t get more gas, you could survive there longer.
Last of all, this girl didn’t do a lot that screams survival besides just surviving. I mean not like she started a fire and hunted her own dinner. She just ate ramen and didn’t move for 5 days. I mean she was found cause she walked till she got signal 20 miles, you can do 20 miles in a day or at night when its cooler out. She could’ve left days earlier. I know people think Bear Grylls is fake but no chance that guy would’ve stayed put and just waited for guys to come get him. especially when all you have to do is walk on flat earth and wait till you get a cell signal. I mean if this girl ate rattle snake and drank her own pee Id give her the praise she deserves, but she was just bored for 5 days because she just waited for no one to drive down a deserted road and tried to not use her cell phone. Thats not survival in my books.