August 3rd, 2011
02:26 PM ET

Woman survives 50-foot fall off wilderness cliff

Pamela Salant

A Oregon woman was in a Portland hospital Wednesday after falling 50 feet from a wilderness cliff, breaking her leg in two places and surviving more than three days on wild berries, caterpillars and creek water.

An Oregon National Guard helicopter pulled Pamela Salant, 28, to safety Tuesday afternoon, more than three days after she fell from the cliff after going on a hike in the Mount Hood National Forest, local media reported.

"She's beat up but she's alive, and she's going to be OK," Salant's boyfriend, Aric Essig, told CNN affiliate KATU-TV in Portland late Tuesday. "She had moments of being scared, but she said she had moments where she was just very determined. ... It was down to survival. She thought she was going to die."

The two had gone in separate directions around noon Saturday in search of a better campsite near Bear Lake, according to the TV station.

"I walked all around the lake expecting to meet up with her at some point, and I walked all the way back to the camp and just didn't see her," Essig told KATU. He called the sheriff's office after she hadn't showed up by Sunday morning.

Hood River County Sheriff Joe Wampler told KATU that searchers used two shoe prints found over the three days to determine the direction Salant traveled and narrowed their search from there.

A copter spotted her Tuesday afternoon sitting on a log near a creek. She had no camping equipment or survival gear with her when she got lost, deputies told CNN affilate KOIN-TV in Portland.

Hood River sheriff's Detective Matt English told KOIN that Salant ate berries and catepillars for nourishment. Essig told KOIN his girlfriend covered herself in moss for warmth and tied her underwear to stop bleeding on a deep cut on her knee.

Family members told CNN affiliate WHDH-TV in Boston that Salant was an experienced hiker, but they hadn't talked to her since her rescue.

Now they can't wait to hear from her.

“I thought I’d never see her ever again,” her brother, Peter Salant, told WHDH. “I was hoping - there was so much I had never told her that I was hoping I’d get a chance to say, and now I do.”

The injured woman, in a statement from Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland, said she would speak to the media next week.

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Filed under: Hikers • Oregon
soundoff (229 Responses)
  1. Maak

    That girl has a very long neck.

    August 3, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      And a hint of an Adams Apple

      August 3, 2011 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nicole

      Really!? Is that all you can think of? She's lucky to be alive and you two are talking about her "long neck and adam's apple" really! I'm glad to see that she is going to be okay!

      August 3, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Disgrace

      And balls of steel.

      August 3, 2011 at 8:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • bobo

      wow... I hope you all fall off a cliff some day.

      August 3, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Alex

    So many people never get that "chance" to tell people (they love) what they'd like to say. Don't hold back, because, never know.

    August 3, 2011 at 8:23 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Carlos Enrique Queso aka Chuck E. Cheese

    I don't think anyone would've believed the boyfriend had the story ended tragically. He's also lucky!

    August 3, 2011 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • bobo

      I love your name.

      August 3, 2011 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
  4. optimist

    Well, gld she made it. Now, why would anyone go on hike alone? It is either irresponsible or plain stupid or both. It happens time and time again and it seems that some people think that they can walk on walter. I hope she learned a lesson and pays for teh rescue out of her own pocket.

    August 3, 2011 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michelle

      I hope you make an honest mistake someday have to pay for it out of your own pocket. Mistakes happen, that's why we have these services.

      August 3, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      I go hiking by myself all the time and have great experiences. Frankly, if there are still places left where you can go hiking and NOT see other people for more than a day or two, they're getting very few and far between. But you should always carry a few emergency supplies and, if you're alone in a truly remote area, a personal locator beacon.

      August 3, 2011 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Rob

    That's a woman?? Seriously?

    August 3, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kim

      Post YOUR pic and lets see what coments YOU get.

      August 3, 2011 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse |
  6. viranka

    STUPIDITY AT IT'S BEST , i smell a new restrurant coming BUGS UR US lol

    August 3, 2011 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Gee

    She didn't "survive on bugs". She didn't need to eat anything for three days. She just needed water.

    Folks, if you're in a survival situation for anything longer than TWO WEEKS, then you need to start thinking about eating something. You don't need bugs. You don't need to cut the dead gizzard from a putrefying buzzard like the "survivalists" on TV. Don't drink your own urine. Just find some water, stay warm and dry, stay in one place, and try to attract attention. YOU DON'T NEED TO EAT.

    August 3, 2011 at 8:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      You have to eat bugs to build up your trail cred

      August 3, 2011 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Trapper

      Gee,you sound like someone that read a fast surviveing book.
      Have you ever tried your advice ?
      I too,have been without food for a week.
      Before handing out advice,try it yourself,but break a couple of legs to get the real feel.

      August 3, 2011 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Can

      You are an idiot; yes the human body can go without food for approximately 28 days however this is not mean you can just sit around drinking water for 2 weeks. In a survival situation there is a chance no one will find you (depending on the remoteness of your location) and you need to keep your energy level up to withstand cool nights, rain etc..., ward off depression, stay positive, and potentially have to find your own way out (which will certainly be physically demanding). If you just drink water your energy levels will continue to drop, first the body will burn fat and then resort to burning muscle, eventually you wont be able to move at all. When lost the first thing to do is try to build a shelter, then attempt to start a fire, and look for food and water, and finally try to get your bearings to determine the best possible direction to travel to get out. These survival experts are quite competent; try starving yourself for a couple of days and see how good you feel...

      August 3, 2011 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Speedro

      Hahaha. Props to Rob!

      August 3, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
  8. gyntanfitman

    why would you fall from a cliff?

    August 3, 2011 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • phishtrader


      August 3, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Donald

      Because its there...

      August 4, 2011 at 3:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Jugger

      Because gravity is a cruel, cruel mistress.

      August 4, 2011 at 8:17 am | Report abuse |
  9. Michael

    I live in the area (Columbia Gorge) where this lady was lost. Both the hikers were stupid to have not known the area before hand, and did not have the necessary equipment that they should have had. We have had numerous people in the Columbia Gorge, over the past couple months now, that have gotten lost, due to not knowing where they were going (failing to research before), not having the equipment, not having a full charge on their cellphones (there are some dead areas, but still), and people that just do not listen to what the locals tell people to watch out for and follow the trails. This lady is very lucky to have been alive and found- why do people break up and look for a way out? Obviously these people do not know basic survival. I am an ER Doc in Portland, and am with Search and Rescue Units- we see this kind of mistake all the time. All the resources wasted, because of lack of basic knowledge.

    August 3, 2011 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • CinD

      And I'm sure you never made a mistake when you were young...

      August 3, 2011 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • sanjosemike

      Michael, I agree with you. People who go out into the wild without proper planning, equipment and knowledge also risk those who try to rescue them. I sometimes think that these foolish folks should help pay the costs of S and R. I'm also a doc and I routinely pay to S and R as a charitable contribution.

      We have many, many wilderness areas in this Country. While beautiful, they can be very dangerous. Even as close as just 2 miles out of a populated area!

      REI has books and safety equipment. There is no such thing as a "short" hike out of a populated area. All should be considered dangerous (unless you have knowledge of survival and safety).

      But you should never be arrogant and you should ALWAYS tell people where and when you are going, and when you expect to return.

      sanjosemike (Yes, there are wilderness areas very close to here too).

      August 3, 2011 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • OvernOut

      I took a one credit pass/fail class in college in the 70s called "Wilderness Survival". Our text book was the US Air Force survival manual, and I took the class as kind of a lark. The class was based on common sense stuff, and safety first. I still use things I learned there nearly every day. The instructor ended each lecture with something like: "Remember–if you go hiking wearing inappropriate footwear, make sure you fall facing outward, your last view of this world as you are falling will be much more interesting". Some people think a cute shirt, khaki shorts and a water bottle are all you need for hiking in the mountains. Mt. Hood is dangerous, there's no need to keep proving it.

      August 3, 2011 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
  10. BearsTheres

    Good for her. Survival oriented young lady. I like these stories vs. the disappearing hikers.
    Never underestimate the chicks. And those criticizing her looks, I'll bet you are models between jobs, but
    full time azzhats.

    August 3, 2011 at 8:46 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Speedro

    "A Oregon woman". I wanted to read the story but was turned off by the first word error. Can I get an editing job at CNN? What does it pay I wonder.

    August 3, 2011 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • unowhoitsme

      What's it pay? Obviously, not much!

      August 3, 2011 at 8:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hannah

      So glad you noticed that too! 🙂 At least it was correct in the second paragraph.

      August 3, 2011 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Mike

    This sounds like some survival skills we should expect from a special forces soldier or sailor. This must be one tough chick. I would not be surprise to hear that they make a movie about her experience. Can't wait to hear the interview.

    August 3, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Karma

    damn you people are cold! woman survived an incredible ordeal and a lot of you are making fun of her about the way she looks. karma is a bit@# you all.

    August 3, 2011 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • LOL

      LOL Karma... Wouldn't it be great if something like that really existed?

      August 3, 2011 at 11:04 pm | Report abuse |
  14. buxxy

    'A' Oregon woman? What? Dudes, can't you proof the article first? Pathetic.

    August 3, 2011 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Michelle

    I grew up with Pam and she is a survivor and a wonderful person! This is a miracle. Shame on you folks for making fun of the picture. Most of you people probably couldn't survive an hour out there.

    August 3, 2011 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
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