SNOQUALMIE PASS — A 21-year-old Seattle hiker who had been lost in the Cascades for three days is home safe with her family.
“Paula Reuter found in the Kula Kula basin” near Snoqualmie Pass by a Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office helicopter, the King County Sheriff’s Office tweeted Thursday afternoon. “Pretty healthy. Ate mushrooms, built a fire.”
Officers said she also ate tree bark and saved the beef jerky she had on her to feed her two dogs that she had taken with her.
She got off a main trail and lost her way on Monday and, despite spending three nights in the cold, she was surprised so many people were out looking for her.
The Sheriff’s Office said she and her two dogs were found about 6 miles from where she parked her car for her hike on a trail near Snoqualmie Pass Monday morning.
Search and rescue volunteers were notified at about 7 p.m. Tuesday that Reuter was missing. Rescue crews had a general idea of where to look for her because on Monday she had snapped a photo while hiking near Snoqualmie Pass.
“We had over 16 teams of search and rescue folks out there today looking for Paula,” King County sheriff’s detective Jason Stanley said.
Just before 3 p.m. Thursday, a helicopter crew, part of a combined search effort with King County Search and Rescue, spotted a lone hiker and believed they found Reuter. They lowered crew members to the hiker, but the helicopter was running low on fuel and had to resupply.
When the helicopter, Snohawk, returned, the crew was able to hoist Reuter and her two dogs to safety.
The helicopter touched down at Bandera Airfield, where Reuter was reunited with her parents and some awaiting friends.
Reuter had traveled about 6 miles from her car, parked at the Ira Springs trailhead. She reported that she was trying to hike to Mount Defiance when she became disoriented on the trails and couldn’t find her way back.
The hiker was transported to an area hospital where she was examined for precautionary measures. She had scratches all over her arms and legs from apparently bushwhacking or off-trail hiking, but was otherwise just fine.