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Monday
Apr012013

Hiker Survived Six Days in Snow Cave on Oregon's Mt. Hood

ABC News(PORTLAND, Ore.) -- A hardy and determined woman celebrated Easter in the hospital recuperating after spending six nights stranded and injured on Oregon’s Mount Hood.

Mary Owen, 23, said her faith in God got her through those six excruciating days alone in the cold on Mount Hood before a National Guard helicopter spotted her Saturday morning, at an elevation of about 4,600 feet.  She was flown to a Portland, Ore., hospital and treated for frostbite on her toes.

“It’s hard to give up hope when there’s so much life inside you,” Owen said Sunday from her hospital bed.

Owen was last heard from on March 24 and was reported missing last Thursday evening, ABC News affiliate KATU reported.  Owen slipped and cut her leg badly after a whiteout last Sunday.

“The first thing I did was pound out a snow cave because you want to get protection from wind and the elements,” Owen said.

Owen, an experienced climber, was certain she’d be found soon.  But time passed and no one came.  She melted snow for water and started fires for warmth.  For the next six days, she sat on the mountain alone and injured, occasionally moving to avoid avalanches crumbling around her.

Alone in her solitude, she began reflecting on the people that mattered most to her and wondered if she would ever see them again.

“I was out there and just thinking of all the loose ends that I left behind and the people that I care about,” Owen said.  “And that was something that really hit me.”

Owen said on Good Friday she saw planes flying overhead and thought her prayers would be answered.  Unfortunately, the helicopters didn’t spot her, leading to another cold night on Mount Hood.  However, Owen’s faith remained throughout her time alone on the mountain.

Then on Saturday, nearly a full week on Mt. Hood, she was spotted by a National Guard helicopter.

“I was very much overwhelmed and just screaming for them to come back for me.  They finally did and they turned around and came back and that was a good moment,” Owen said with tears in her eyes.

Owen spent Easter Sunday with her family at the hospital and received what she wanted most besides being rescued -- French toast and a bath.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio