Amanda Eller, 35, was last seen early on the morning of 8 May as she set off on a hike in the Makawao Forest Reserve trail on Maui island.
Rescuers found her safe and in remarkably good condition after a helicopter team spotted her waving from the stream bed of a ravine around 5pm on Friday.
Ms Eller’s friends and volunteers who joined the 17-day search said she had lost her shoes in the jungle and was suffering from sunburn, but otherwise had no other injuries. The physical therapist had survived on water and local plants, one said.
“She was very alert, she knew her father’s phone number, she knew who she was, where she was, knew exactly how long she had been out there,” her friend Chris Berquist told ABC News. “I’ve never felt something quite that overpowering.”
Ms Eller was able to call her father from the helicopter that lifted her out of the ravine and took her to Maui Memorial Hospital to be checked over.
The woman’s family – who had feared she could have been “intercepted” by someone after she disappeared – had raised the reward for finding her from $10,000 to $50,000 only hours before she was found.
Hundreds of volunteers, including many experienced hikers, had joined the effort to locate the missing yoga teacher – originally from the US state of Maryland but living and working in Hawaii. Police dogs and drones had been used to scour the forest.
Ms Eller was last seen by her boyfriend Benjamin Konkol before she set off on a morning hike without her phone. He told ABC News last week that evidence suggested “she’s definitely still here, we just haven’t found her yet”.
Her mother Julia said: “I do firmly believe that Amanda is still alive, but occasionally those doubts creep in and I try to dispel them as I can.”
Hawaiian authorities also released surveillance footage last week showing Ms Eller at the Ha’iku Post Office and a local store on the morning she went missing. Police found her white Toyota RAV4 in the parking lot of the forest trail soon after she was declared missing.
Although it is not yet known how she came to get stuck in the ravine, Mr Berquist said the spot where she was finally found was “way off the beaten track”.
He said: “She was not injured. She has a little bit of exposure from the sun, a little bit of sunburn. She lost her shoes a few days in. But no injuries.”
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