Woman recovering in St. George after hiking 36 hours to save stranded family

Karen Klein. UPI/"Today" show

ST. GEORGE, Utah, Dec. 27 (UPI) — A 46-year-old Pennsylvania woman resorted to her “solutions-oriented” nature and “maternal instinct” to survive by walking 26 miles over 36 hours in a desolate area of the Grand Canyon.

Officials with the Kane and Coconino sheriff’s offices found Karen Klein early Saturday morning in a guard shack at the North Rim entrance of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. She was taken to a hospital in St. George, Utah.

The community college assistant biology professor from Palmer Township, Pa. who turns 47 on New Year’s Eve, was on vacation with her husband, Eric Klein, and 10-year-old son, Isaac Klein, when their car got stuck in the mud near the Utah-Arizona border on Thursday. A GPS had detoured them from State Route 67, which is closed during the winter season, to forest service roads.

So she hiked to get help while her husband and son stayed behind in the car.

“I said, ‘I’ll go, I’ll just walk up to the main road. I’m a runner,'” Klein recounted Monday from her hospital bed.

She said she was lucky to be alive.

“I can’t leave my son without a mom. I can’t leave my husband without a wife. I’m not letting my parents bury me,” she told NBC News.

She found herself alone on snow-covered ground with no cell service, no snow boots and only a small pack of Cheerios to eat and some water to drink. She ate aspen and evergreen twigs, and melted snow and drank her own urine to stay alive.

“I didn’t think I would be out that long,” said Klein.

When Karen Klein didn’t return, her son and husband hiked in an opposite direction to an area where they had cellphone service on higher ground. They were treated for cold exposure including frostbite, according to officials.

“As far as places being closed, we just didn’t realize that these roads were closed and these visitor centers were closed. We didn’t investigate that deeply.”

When not walking, Klein huddled beneath an evergreen tree, making sure not to fall asleep.

“I kept myself awake. I just talked to myself and rocked back to stay warm,” she said.

Klein also pulled a muscle near her hip and lost a shoe.

“I could only move it 10 steps at a time,” she said.

Finally, Klein found an uninhabited residence for park rangers and broke the glass with her elbow. She was found and transported to the hospital, where she was in stable condition in an intensive care unit.


  1. We take backcountry overlanding/ remote camping trips to that region nearly every year.. we have a very capable vehicle, self extraction equipment, backpacks, lots of water, water purifiers, and plenty of MRE foods. In short– we are prepared.. hopefully these otherwise intelligent people learned a very cheap lesson..I mean really, how absolutely stupid can one be?

    • She is quoted as saying that ” they didn’t investigate that deeply ” what? They didn’t investigate at all, nothing, nada!! I’m just blown away by this..


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