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When Hiking Goes Wrong

Number 10 Amanda Eller 

In 2019, hiker Amanda Eller survived for 17 days  in a thick Hawaiian forest. Eller’s harrowing  

story began with a 3-mile hike. She’d chosen a  different path than usual and stopped to meditate  

and take a nap. The woman, a 35-year-old yoga  instructor, hadn’t taken her phone with her  

and could no longer find the way back to her  car when she awoke. For over two weeks, Eller  

remained alive by eating berries and guava, when  she could find them, while trekking through the  

forest. She drank river water but only when it was  clear enough, so that it wouldn’t make her sick.  

Aside from basic concerns, like food and shelter,  Eller would also struggle with a broken tibia  

and horrific sunburn, which had become infected.  She had to walk barefooted after her shoes were  

swept away in a flash flood. Eller finally reached  a spot where the terrain didn’t allow her to walk  

forward. There was little food in the area and  the woman feared she would die there. Thankfully,  

she was spotted by a search helicopter as she  came out of a ravine and was airlifted out of  

the forest. Eller had lost 15 pounds and suffered  several infections as well as a broken foot  

but doctors believed she would fully recover. Number 9 Ioana Hociota 

In February of 2012, Ioana Hociota was attempting  to become the youngest person to hike the Grand  

Canyon end to end. When she was in her teens,  Hociota moved to the US from Romania and was  

introduced to the canyons by a man who would later  become her husband. The couple got married in a  

ceremony that overlooked the valleys, before  the 24-year-old set off on her record-breaking  

attempt. Hociota and her hiking partner were on  different trails, roughly 20 yards apart, as they  

crossed the southern rim of the Owl Eyes Cannon.  At that point, Hociota was about 80 miles from  

accomplishing her goal. She was higher up when  her partner suddenly heard small rocks falling  

from above. A loud thud followed. Hociota’s  lifeless body was discovered on a rock ledge,  

to which she’d plummeted from 300 feet. While not  much is known about the circumstances of the fall,  

it’s believed that she’d slipped on a loose rock.  Devastated by her passing, Hociota’s husband  

stated that he’d be completing the final length  of her hike while carrying a lock of her hair. 

Number 8 Chessety Kroeze In August of 2020, Dutch woman  

Chessety Kroeze lost her life while hiking,  during a holiday trip to Spain. At the time,  

the 27-year-old was accompanied by her boyfriend,  Justin, and they were exploring a region in the  

Catalan province of Lleida. Kroeze, who was  about to graduate as a medical practitioner,  

suffered a devastating fall. There’s little  information on what had preceded the accident,  

but the impact caused her fatal injuries. The  couple was in an area without cellphone coverage  

so Justin tried to get help. The woman was  ultimately airlifted out of the region. In  

the incident’s aftermath, hundreds of condolence  messages were expressed on Kroeze’s social meda.

Number 7 Jordan Brashears A day after he’d become separated from his  

hiking companions, the body of 29-year-old Jordan  Brashears was found in Boyton Canyon, Arizona. On  

October the 8th of 2020, Brashears and two friends  were exploring the ancient ruins in the canyon.  

The man, who was hiking barefoot at the time,  reportedly disappeared after rounding a corner.  

His companions shouted his name and looked for  him for about an hour before calling the emergency  

services. Rescuers carried the search into the  night and resumed it the following morning. They  

eventually found Brashears’ body and determined  that, after his companions had lost sight of him,  

the man suffered a deadly fall. He was most likely  attempting to climb a rock ledge when he slipped  

and plummeted over 100 feet. Number 6 Donald MacGillis 

In October of 2020, 74-year-old Donald MacGillis  was hiking through Maine’s Katahdin Mountain,  

alongside his nephew, Paul. MacGillis, a former  editor for the Berkshire Eagle and Boston Globe,  

knew the mountain well but both men became  disoriented in conditions of powerful winds  

and heavy fog. They called for help and were told  to shelter in place for the night, as temperatures  

were rapidly dropping. Then, at around 3 am,  Paul called rangers and told them that his  

uncle had suffered a 50-foot fall. MacGillis  had sustained injuries to his chest and leg.  

The men, who’d begun to develop hypothermia, were  advised on how to stay warm. The following day,  

the rescue effort was joined by a Blackhawk  helicopter. At around 9:30, a ranger reached  

the hikers and MacGillis was airlifted to a  hospital after the fog cleared. Unfortunately,  

his wounds proved fatal. Paul was treated for  exhaustion and hypothermia but was set to recover. 

Number 5 Michael St. Laurent 

Experienced hiker Michael St. Laurent spent 9  days stranded on a trail in North Vancouver,  

Canada. The 45-year-old had set off on the  Grouse Mountain hike for what he expected to  

be an 8-hour, round-trip. St. Laurent was delayed  by bad weather and had to spend the night on the  

mountain. He’d brought a tarp and a dry change  of clothes which aided him in surviving the cold.  

The following day, he became further disoriented  and, after veering off the marked trail,  

he sprained his hip and his knee.  Hypothermia had also started setting in.  

St. Laurent remembered losing track of time by day  three and believing he’d been lost for nearly a  

month. By the end of the first week, St. Laurent  was shaking uncontrollably, overcome by pain  

and plagued by vivid hallucinations as  he wandered through the frigid woods.  

He had trouble distinguishing what was real but  did have the presence of mind to cover up with  

the tarp at night, which likely saved his life.  St. Laurent’s feet were ravaged by frostbite and  

he could feel his organs shutting down by the time  he reached a helicopter landing area. It was there  

that he was found by an off-duty rescue volunteer  and her boyfriend. They administered first aid  

and the man was eventually airlifted out  of the forest. In the incident’s aftermath,  

St. Laurent claimed that the experience had  taught him to always leave word with a friend,  

no matter how minor the hike would be. Number 4 Steven Gastelum 

In September of 2020, Steven Gastelum and a  friend were hiking along Devil’s Cauldron,  

on the Oregon Coast. When they reached an area  north of Manzanita, Gastelum climbed a tree,  

located on the edge of a cliff, to pose  for a photo. The 43-year-old was sent  

plummeting into the ocean below after the branch  he’d climbed on collapsed beneath his weight.  

Rescuers riding jet skis as well as a Coast Guard  helicopter were part of the search effort. After  

he was found, Gastelum was pulled to shore and  airlifted to Tillamook Regional Medical Center,  

where he was later pronounced dead. Number 3 Geraldine Largay 

In 2013, Geraldine Largay and a companion took  on a portion of the famous Appalachian Trail,  

a marked hiking route that stretches between  Springer Mountain, in Georgia, and Maine’s Mount  

Katahdin. The 66-year-old retired nurse and her  friend, Jane Lee, had set off from West Virginia.  

They were meant to trek over 1,100 miles together  with Largay’s husband meeting them along the way  

with supplies. Lee had to abandon the hike, in  late June, due to a family emergency. Largay  

was firm in her resolve of finishing the trip on  her own. Several weeks later, the woman was just  

200 miles short of her destination, in northern  Maine. A photo of her, taken by a fellow hiker,  

would mark the last time that anyone saw Largay  alive. On July the 22nd she tried sending a text  

to her husband to say that she’d gotten lost but,  due to poor cellphone coverage, the message didn’t  

go through. A search was launched but no trace of  Largay was found. It would take two years before  

the woman’s campsite and her body was discovered  by a logging surveyor. The woman had died zipped  

up in her sleeping bag, inside her tent. She’d  continued to write in her journal, throughout her  

ordeal, up until mid-August, 2013. With little  hope for rescue and dwindling supplies, in one  

of her final entries Largay wrote that she hoped  whoever found her body would notify her family. 

Today's topic was requested by Keyofyouandme12,  Guerrila Warfare and Darren Chambers.  

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comments section below. Number 2 Cassandra Bravo 

While out hiking a trail on California’s Mount  Whitney, 34-year-old Cassandra Bravo fell 100  

feet. The woman sustained severe injuries  in the fall, which impaired her mobility.  

Still, she managed to pull herself into a log  shelter. It offered her some protection from  

the wind chill. While only wearing leggings  and a tank top, Bravo spent two nights in  

subzero temperatures. When rescuers found her,  they were shocked that the mother-of-two was  

still alive. She was airlifted to Antelope  Valley Hospital, in Lancaster. Unfortunately, her  

injuries and the cold exposure had taken a heavy  toll on Bravo. She passed away in the hospital. 

Number 1 Michael Knapinski In November of 2020, Seattle man  

Michael Knapinski and a friend were on a snowy  hike through Mount Rainier. The 45-year-old and  

his partner then became separated. Knapinski  chose to snowshoe down a slope towards Paradise  

while his friend continued on skis. The alarm was  raised with emergency services after Knapinski  

failed to arrive at their rendezvous point, later  that evening. The man had been caught in whiteout  

conditions and a rescue helicopter found him the  following day. Knapinski was unconscious when he  

was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center,  in Seattle. As doctors started treating him,  

he went into cardiac arrest. Experts then  bypassed his heart and lungs to connect him  

to an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation  machine, or ECMO, one of the most advanced  

forms of life support in the world. In  simple terms, it involves pumping blood  

outside of the body into a machine that takes  out carbon dioxide and pumps oxygen-rich blood  

back into the body. The technique essentially  brought Knapinski back from the dead, after his  

heart had stopped for over 45 minutes. Knapinski  didn’t remember much about the incident and,  

judging from the scrapes and bruises on his body,  assumed he’d fallen during the whiteout. After his  

recovery from clinical death, Knapinski claimed  he’d be devoting his life to helping others. 

Thanks for watching! Would you rather hike  through a tiger’s territory or swim across  

a crocodile-infested river? Let us  know in the comments section below!