INYO COUNTY, Calif. (KABC) — A Huntington Beach hiker who was missing for four days in the Inyo National Forest described the terrifying ordeal that she says led to her sudden disappearance.
In her first interview since being found, 60-year-old Sheryl Powell said a knife-wielding man chased her while she was on a walk with her dog - shortly after her husband went to move their Jeep near the Grandview Campground in the Bristlecone Pine Forest area July 12.
"All of a sudden, some guy pops out from behind a tree or something - he'd been observing me," she said. "It was scary, I just was really very nervous about the fact that he was threatening to do my dog harm, and if we made noise, if we yelled out, that he was gonna use it on us. I tried to be compliant until I had the chance to run."
Powell - surrounded by her children and husband with the family dog, Miley, on her lap - said Miley may have saved her life. The dog was found Monday morning about 2 miles from where Powell went missing, authorities said. Ground search teams used aerial reconnaissance and thermal imaging to later find Powell.
Powell, who is described as an experienced hiker, traveled at night to avoid dehydration. She also managed to find water and a cactus to eat, but after a certain point, she couldn't walk any further.
Searchers described Powell as "resilient and strong but exhausted" after being in an extremely remote area, according to the Inyo County Sheriff's Office. She was transported to a local hospital for medical clearance. She's expected to be released in a few days.
"Everything happened so fast. We're so happy," said daughter Farrah Powell.
The hiker's children thanked everyone who helped find their mom, and they thanked the community for their support.
"Nothing counts. Nothing in the world counts anymore," the hiker's husband said. "This is a miracle of miracles."