Many people love hiking. It is a great way to get some exercise while enjoying nature. Many less experienced hikers go out for a few hours in highly populated areas. There are plenty of hiking trails around the United States for those who just want to take a quick hike. More experienced hikers go off the beaten path, and their hikes last for hours and even days. When Amanda Eller went to take a hike one day, she never expected to be fighting for her life.
Amanda is a 35-year-old physical therapist and yoga instructor from Hawaii. On May 8, 2019, she decided to head out for a hike through Hawaii’s massive Makawao Forest Reserve. The area wasn’t a place for inexperienced hikers, but she thought that she could handle the terrain.
The Makawao Forest Reserve
The Makawao Forest Reserve /*spans over about 2,000 acres. It isn’t the most accessible terrain to get, though. There are ravines and lava rocks that you need to be careful for. There are also interwoven ferns and vegetation that need to be smashed with a machete to get through. When hiking in this forest, the last thing you want to do is make a wrong turn. Amanda didn’t understand how dangerous the forest and its terrain were, which was her first of many mistakes.
Amanda’s Next Few Mistakes
Before Amanda even ventured into the forest, she made her next two mistakes. First, she planned to hike alone. Considering the dangerous terrain, this was a bad idea. She parked her car in front of the entrance of the reserve and left her cell phone inside. This was her another major mistake. If she got in any trouble out in the forest, she wouldn’t be able to call anyone for help.
Amanda was only planning to take a three-mile hike, so she didn’t bother to bring much as far as supplies were concerned. While she was walking, she decided to head off the trail and take a rest. When she felt rested up enough to continue, she started to panic. She was in the middle of an unforgiving forest, she didn’t have her phone, she had lost her sense of direction, and she couldn’t find her way back to the dedicated path. She suddenly became very worried that she would never find her way back to her car.
The First Few Days
Amanda’s first day in the forest was difficult. She hiked from 10:30 am until midnight. She had nothing but the clothes on her back, and the temperature dipped down to the 60s at night. The humidity began to rise, she was alone, and it started to rain. When the first day ran into the second, she really started to panic. She wasn’t sure if she would ever get out of the forest alive. On the third day, Amanda knew that if she didn’t find water soon that she would end up dead. For a while, she forgot about her car and started looking for water. She didn’t know if anyone was looking for her, or if anyone even realized that she was missing. While she was looking for water, things got a lot worse. She fell off a 20-foot cliff in the middle of the forest, and broke her leg and tore the meniscus in her knee. Suddenly, her situation was even worse than she ever could have imagined.
Amanda refused to give up, and she was determined to stay alive. She drank river water to stay hydrated. She ate wild strawberry guavas and unidentified plants, which is very dangerous. For protein, she started eating moths. As her body weakened and her injuries got the best of her, she had to resort to crawling. She had to stay warm during the cold nights, and she used ferns, shrubs, and leaves to keep warm. She even got up enough nerve to sleep in the den of a wild boar looking for warmth.
The Rescue Team
While Amanda was trying to survive in the forest, there was a rescue team out looking for her. They found her car and cell phone, and they worried that she was abducted. Not knowing this for sure, they went into the woods to search for her. They were so devoted to the mission that they were killing wild boars to look for human remains. Back home, her family offered a $50,000 reward for any information regarding her whereabouts.
On Amanda’s 17th day in the forest, she heard a helicopter above while she was scavenging for food. Fortunately, it spotted her. She was in horrible shape, but she was finally going to be rescued. Her tears of pain and fear turned to tears of relief and joy. She was airlifted to the hospital and was 15 pounds lighter. There, she was treated for her leg injuries, malnutrition, and severe burns. It turned out that Amanda knew the man who flew the helicopter that saved her. He was injured in Afghanistan, and she was his physical therapist. Her family and friends were thrilled that she was home. Amanda says that she will forever be indebted for those who worked tirelessly to save her life. Woman fights to survive for weeks after hiking off trail in a Hawaiian forest, and barely lives to tell the tale.