(PORTLAND, Ore.) -- An Oregon hiker who fell 50 feet off a cliff and spent three nights alone in a national forest said that she was unwilling to die after the accident, and ate caterpillars and berries to survive.
An Oregon Army National Guard air search team spotted 28-year-old Pamela Salant and rescued her from the Mount Hood National Forest last week. Salant had been missing since July 31 after she got lost and fell during a camping trip with her boyfriend.
"I didn't even feel myself landing; I just sort of like waking up and like, 'Whoa what just happened?' and then looking at my leg and then seeing like it was at a bowed kind of angle," Salant told reporters from her bedside on Monday.
She says that after the fall she stayed close to a creek to keep her bearings and have access to water. While recovering in a hospital she told reporters that her survival instincts kicked in. Since she was only wearing shorts and a tank top at the time of the accident, she covered herself with moss to stay warm.
"That drive to live was so strong for me, and I just like really felt like I just wasn't done yet," she said. "I never wanted to give up really, I just was not certain my body could handle it with my broken leg and I was...crawling all over, around waterfalls and on the riverbed, so I was kinda doing some dangerous things."
She said that during her ordeal she attempted to eat a snail-like forest mollusk, which "looked really tasty, but it was not." She spat it out.
Crawling and scooting because she was unable to walk on her broken leg, Salant moved more than a mile from where she fell along a drainage path in hopes of reaching the Columbia River.
"I just kept pushing through all the pain. I just wanted to keep going," she said.
Her boyfriend Aric Essig called for help when she didn't return, and volunteers and rescue workers searched for her. On Monday night, she thanked all of those who aided in her rescue.
"I'm just so thankful that I'm here," she said.
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