Missing hiker Miyuki Harwood survives nine days stranded in Californian forest with broken bones by drinking filtered creek water

The 62-year-old was found in a remote corner of the Sierra Nevada National Forest by rescue teams when she started blowing a whistle

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The Independent US

A woman who was stranded in the rugged Sierra Nevada for nine days while suffering from some broken bones survived by using a water filter to drink from a creek, authorities said.

Miyuki Harwood, 62, was found on Saturday morning in a remote area of the Sierra National Forest after she used a whistle to get the attention of a search and rescue team who were looking for her, Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims said at a news conference.

Harwood was airlifted to a hospital to treat an unspecified injury sustained on Aug. 20 when she got separated from a group of hikers near Horsehead Lake, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) northwest of Fresno.

She was listed in stable condition, the sheriff said after meeting Harwood at her hospital bed.

“Her voice was strong. She was extremely thankful that people were looking for her,” Mims said.

Search and rescue teams were sent out in a helicopter


Harwood, of Folsom, California, was the focus of an intense search involving several law enforcement agencies after she got lost in the mountains.

She broke some bones and couldn't hike back to her base camp, Mims said. She also had very little food and supplies because she was carrying just enough for a day trip.

Rescue efforts had previously been hampered due to thick smoke from a wildfire

Search and rescue teams at the Sierra Nevada National Forest

To survive, Harwood crawled for about two days from where she was injured to a creek where she could scoop water into a bottle with a filter inside.

“She was a fighter,” said Rusty Hotchkiss, a California Highway Patrol flight officer and paramedic who flew Harwood to the hospital.

“She was very exhausted — very tired, but she was very thankful to be saved and to get out of there,” he added.

Mims said the search for Harwood was hampered by thick smoke from a wildfire that has burned 96 square miles nearby in the Kings Canyon National Park.