Paula Reuter’s family can now breathe a sigh of relief. The 21-year-old hiker and her two dogs were found alive Thursday afternoon, Oct. 9th, after a tough 3-day ordeal in the Cascade Mountains’ wilderness. Reuter, a Seattle restaurant manager, took off at 7:45 am Monday morning for a hike in the Mason Lake area when she lost her way. She was reported missing the following Tuesday night.
Immediately following, a ground search was initiated, which led to the discovery of her car near Ira Springs trail area. Thanks to an Instagram photo Reuter had snapped while hiking, search and rescue volunteers had a general idea of where to look for her.
In the meantime, Reuter was forced to rely on some critical survival 9 strategies. Despite being a casual hiker, the 5-feet-10 inch, 120-pound adventurer was not prepared for the chilly weather at night, which often dropped to around 40 degrees. The fact that she was donning a skirt at the time did not help either.
Yet, Reuter was resourceful. Finding herself with little food and no shelter, she ate mushrooms and tree bark for sustenance. As for her two dogs, she fed them the remaining beef jerky she had originally brought along with her. She then spent the next two days trying to find her way back to the trailhead, but decided to change her approach on Wednesday.
With a lighter in hand; she decided to send a smoke signal to a chopper she saw above. Fortunately, she stood in a clear, fogless sport with tons of dry brush around. A Snohomish Country rescue helicopter was able to spot her around 3:00pm, Thursday afternoon by the Kula Kula basin near Snoqualmie Pass. Since Monday, she had wandered 6 miles from where she had originally parked her car.
One by one, Reuter and her dogs were hoisted to safety and transported to an area hospital, where she was examined. Besides some scratches and bruises on her arm due to off trail hiking, Reuter survived the wilderness unharmed and unfazed.
Of the incidence, Reuter states, “I was extremely grateful that people were able to notice that I was missing.”