MT. SHASTA, Calif. — A Mt. Shasta hiker is sharing her story after a near-death experience ends with her rescue by the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office Thursday.
“This time I was really out of my element and beyond my skill level in the mountains,” said 31-year old Abilene Bushong.
For the past couple weeks, Bushong said she and her hiking partner, Duncan, were on a mission to complete a 448-mile trail.
“You know we spent five weeks walking through the Siskiyou mountains and summiting all the high points and wilderness areas,” Bushong said.
The Siskiyou Peaks Trail is based on the book by Aria Zoner.
“It has maps and everything and it’s basically like an alphabet so she was almost through the alphabet about the letter x and ran into this problem,” Zoner said.
Bushong said she and Duncan were on their way down the mountain when they realized they were in the wrong area.
“From what I could see and from what he could see, you know it looked just look like the valley we were supposed to descend, the truth is the valley was on the other side of that ridge,” Bushong said.
The couple decided to slide down to what they thought was a steep slope of snow, that’s when things escalated.
“All of a sudden we launched into the air and Duncan was in front of me…I was holding onto him and then Duncan hit the ground and I hit over him, he broke my fall.”
Bushong said she then began sliding back into a hole. She landed on a small shelf about the size of her backpack 20 feet below which prevented her from sliding down into three ice tunnels.
“I was definitely full of fear and I was really cold and I knew that if no one came, I wouldn’t be alive,” Bushong said.
She managed to call 911 from within the crevasse and spoke to rescuers for several hours as she hung onto an ice wall.
She was transported by helicopter to Mercy Medical Center for treatment of minor injuries to her legs and face.
Now on her way to recovery, she said despite the near-death experience, its something she will never forget.
“My connection to nature is just as strong as ever. I find my most peace in the wilderness but I recognize where my boundaries are,” Bushong said.
“When you’re in a situation like that, it tests you in a way to let you know how bad do you want to live, what do you have to live for what are you grateful for what are you thankful for, and I feel like she entered that hole unintentionally but I feel like she came out of it with intention to just live life to the fullest and sometimes it takes getting hurt or injured how precious life is,” Zoner said.
“Life is simple, life is fleeting,” Bushong said.