Woman Survives 8 Days in Colorado Wilderness
Rescuers find Denver woman barefoot, hypothermic, and possibly stalked by a bear
Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
Disoriented, alone in the wilderness, barefoot, and perhaps stalked by a bear: I’d say Kelly Guzman has at least a movie-of-the-week (and possibly a feature film) locked up. The 45-year-old Denver resident was rescued from Arapaho National Forest after 8 days wandering barefoot and without food. She lost 30 pounds and got frostbite in her feet, but otherwise she’s recovering in a Denver hospital.
Guzman drove into the mountains and got her SUV stuck in a creek; after waiting for three days through near-freezing nighttime temps, she affixed her shiny emergency blanket to the hood of her stranded car as a signal and attempted to walk out barefoot. Rather than retracing her path, she followed a network of dirt logging roads deeper into the forest. When she cut her feet on the rugged terrain, she dipped them into creeks to numb them, which contributed to her frostbite.
She explains her bizarre behavior on hallucinations and disorientation brought on by not having access to several daily medications. She rationed an energy bar, but otherwise had no food during her ordeal. SAR teams finally located her behind a bush dehydrated and hypothermic, but amazingly alive.
“I was just trying to figure out what was the best move without killing myself,” she says. “I saw someone pop his head out of the bush and say, ‘Kelly, are you Kelly?’ And I just started crying. I was so happy. I didn’t know anyone was looking for me.”
Most disturbingly, searchers noted bear tracks near her footprints, suggesting that an interested bear might’ve following her movements.
“They were finding bear prints on the same course as hers, so they think a bear might have been stalking her all the while,” (her husband) Thomas Ashford said.
There are a few weird questions surrounding the whole incident. She went into the woods without telling anyone, reportedly to “clear her head” after a DUI. Guzman claims to use medical marijuana, which may have been involved in the DUI. Upon release from the hospital this week, she’s expected to attend an interview with a Grand County sheriff to explain how she survived.
I bet we won’t hear the whole story until the book release.