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Elderly Woman Gets Lost in National Park, Puts Survival Skills to Work

When 71-year-old Sajean Geer went to Olympic National Park with her Chihuahua named Yoda, she expected it to be a quick trip. The purpose of the visit to the Washington park was to scatter the ashes of her deceased husband but it proved to be an emotional ordeal, causing her to become disoriented and lost.

Olympic National Park

Jack S. Eng

“I didn’t think I walked that far but I could have because I was emotional,” Geer told The Seattle Times when asked about how she got lost. “All my outdoor experience has been hiking on trails and signs and I hadn’t had experience in total wilderness like that. All I could see is trees. I couldn’t find anything to orient myself with,” she added.

While Geer was an experienced hiker, she didn’t have any gear or supplies at that time except her will to survive and basic knowledge about outdoor survival.

“What I figure is I have to survive until I get rescued,” said Geer.

Olympic National Park

Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News

The widow said she remembered that the most important thing about survival was “having a positive mental attitude and the fighting spirit that you are going to live through it.”

Geer built a shelter using two logs, tree branches, moss, and even tree bark. To keep her warm at night, she hugged her dog tight.

For water, she and Yoda found a stream where they went three times a day to quench their thirst. She ate berries, pine needles, and even ants to satiate her hunger.


After six days of trying hard to survive at the Olympic National Park, the 71-year-old saw a helicopter and were finally rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard. “I’m so happy to be home and that I survived,” she said.

When asked what she’s learned from her ordeal, Geer said: “I realized what was important in life – relationships and love.”

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