Woman Found Living In Utah National Forest After Disappearing Nearly 6 Months Ago — Expert Explains The Survival Methods

May 11, 2021 by apost team

A woman who had gone missing back in November of 2020 was found on May 2, 2021, after surviving in the wild for over five months. The 47-year-old woman, whose identity has not been released, was found in a Utah national forest near Spanish Fork Canyon with only a tent and minimal supplies. 

The Utah County Sheriff's Department had been searching for her since her initial disappearance in November but was unable to find her when searching by foot and by air. The search continued, and in early May, they searched for her by drone when the aircraft crashed. While searching for the drone, the Sergeant and the pilot came across a campsite. A woman emerged from the tent to greet them, and she happened to be the exact woman they were out looking for.
She was there of her own volition but seemed to be in poor health due to a lack of food. Officials also said they had mental health concerns after their conversation, so she was transported to a local hospital. Officials said that they were grateful to make contact with the woman, as they had begun to assume their search was for a body and not a living person due to the length of time she had been missing. 

While the police were surprised to find her, the woman is not in any trouble. She was only brought to the hospital to check on her wellness, and then she is free to go. The woman had to have been incredibly tough and resourceful to survive a long winter in the wilderness.


Insider spoke with nature and survival expert Cat Bigney about the situation. She was less surprised to learn about the woman's ability to survive but still impressed. "If you think about our existence as a species on the globe, most of our lives, we lived that way. It's something that's really part of our DNA," she explained. 

Bigney has consulted for National Geographic and survivalist Bear Grylls. She said that the key to survival in these types of situations is to maintain your core body temperature in whatever way you can. "I've slept in big piles of leaves, and just kind of wiggled in the leaves in snowstorms, just to have that insulating effect holding in my core body temperature."

When asked about the matter of food, Bigney said, "We can fast for a month at a time. It's pretty extreme, but our bodies are built for that." After being found, the woman explained that she had brought along rice and beans with her; she foraged for moss and grass and had been given extra food from other campers early on. This must explain how she was able to survive the winter since Bigney added that the moss and grass she had eaten would not have supplied many calories or nutrients.

The matter of clean water, however, is a little more complicated. Bigney and officials agree that the river water she chose to drink out of may not have been perfectly clean, but there were worse options she could have chosen. Bigney mentioned that if the woman had grown up in the area, then she may have already developed the microflora to help her process the water.


Bigney's main tip for surviving in dangerous situations is this:

 "The truth about survival is just being resourceful and innovative. The biggest thing that will kill you in a survival situation is to panic."

She added, "I've traveled all over the world and been in environments that I know nothing about. It goes back to, what things can kill me, and how quickly, and what are my resources here, and what do I need right now."

Bigney gives valuable information on how to be prepared and survive, but she also knows that there is an equilibrium to be maintained. "I think it could be a really good thing for people to unplug and get away and do a solo excursion. But there has to be some sort of balance there. You don't want some sort of awakening nature time to become a suicide attempt." 

The Utah County Sheriff's Department gave a statement about the incident following the woman's rescue. They had an important message for the community. "We want to be clear that while many people might choose to not live in the circumstances and conditions this woman did, she did nothing against the law, and in the future she might choose to return to the same area. Resources were made available to her should she decide to use them."

Fortunately, this story has a happy ending, and nobody was seriously injured. There has not been an update on the woman's wellbeing, but she is getting the care she needs. Anyone looking to spend an extended period in nature should do everything they can to prepare and seek out assistance if in need of help. 

What do you think of this woman's ability to survive in the wild for so long? Would you ever do something like this? Let us know your thoughts, and be sure to send this to your loved ones.

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