Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Claire Nelson's miraculous survival from the depths of despair

We Are The World Blogfest
This is an amazing story of hope triumphing over despair.

Thirty-five-year-old travel writer Claire Nelson from New Zealand was hiking in Joshua Tree National Park in California, in May this year, when she accidentally strayed off the trail. She hadn't checked the GPS and she had no idea that she was on a wrong track.

She climbed on a rock, which she thought was steady but actually wasn't. To her horror, she slipped and came hurtling down into a canyon 15 ft below.

It took awhile for her to realise what had happened -- she fallen into a place where she couldn't be heard by anyone nor anyone could see her.  Worse, she had badly broken her pelvis, and she couldn't move.

There was no mobile connectivity; so she couldn't call anyone nor she could text. She survived a scary first night, amidst fears of being bitten by rattlesnakes.

With the sun shining bright. She made use of the material available with her to make a contraption that would shield her from sunlight.

She was getting dehydrated as time went by. She was running out of the 3 liters of water she had carried; and was left with no option but to drink her urine to keep herself hydrated.

She was desperate and fears of not being able to survive was threatening to overpower her. She needed to talk to someone. So she videographed updates, so that in case she didn't make it, her family and friends would know what had happened.

But in the midst of all this, she didn't lose hope.  After nearly four days she heard the sound of a helicopter, and she stretched herself as much as she could and waved the umbrella-like contraption she had made to protect herself from the sun.

The authorities had been alerted by a friend of Claire, who hadn't heard from her for a while and began panicking as to what might have happened.

Claire was rescued and after surgery and  prolonged medical treatment, she is finally learnt to walk again.

BBC's Outlook Weekend, last week, featured Claire Nelson, in which she spoke to presenter Emily Webb narrating the entire sequence of events. The 25-minute programme is worth a listen.


Kiwi hiker Claire Nelson's incredible survival after three nights in US desert

Missing Kiwi woman Claire Nelson found injured in US national park

(This post is part of the We Are The World Blogfest, wherein participants share positive stories of hope and success.)


  1. Wow, that's scary. And Joshua Tree is desert, so it's not a nice place to get stranded. That's why there are so many signs and warnings not to stray from the trail. Bad luck. Glad she was found.

    1. It's must have been so terrifying for Claire. Can't even imagine spending three days and nights all alone in the depths of a ravine with no possibility of any help coming by.

  2. That was close. It should've been a tormenting experience, but glad she was rescued.

    Destination Infinity

  3. Originally I read it in the Sacramento Bee. Incredible story of survival.

  4. Yes, Rajan, that was in incredible story.
    By the way, hadn't heard of Sacramento Bee, before. I was just looking up about it on the internet. A very old newspaper. How is it doing in the digital age?