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. I wonder

    Hard core! Go girl!

    August 3, 2011 at 11:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • JG

      I've been to the trail they're talking about. I couldn't imagine falling all the way off the rock face. This is one tough Oregon chick.

      August 4, 2011 at 2:01 am | Report abuse |
  2. Marie

    Wonderful news. Always Hold on to HOPE... (Not sure I'd go for the berries though).
    And, for the Brother- Don't forget to tell your sisters all the things you should have before...
    REMEMBER: We got through this Life, but Once.

    August 3, 2011 at 11:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • katwagner

      Oooo I would definitely go for the berries; they're in season this time of year. Huckleberries and blackberries. But I don't know about the caterpillars. I used to hike and camp alone – just made sure my food was tied up so the bears couldn't get it. I always let people know where I was going and when I'd be back.

      August 4, 2011 at 1:48 am | Report abuse |
  3. C. Muehlhof

    I'm over-joyed that she made it! However, if both she and her boy-friend were, indeed, both experienced hikers, why did they fail to follow the cardinal rule? You NEVER hike alone! She's extremely lucky that her wound didn't attract a predator.

    August 4, 2011 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
  4. Nichola

    I just don't know why people take risks with the one thing they've got - their life. They just don't seem to get the fact that they only have one - there isn't another one just over the next ridge.

    Call me risk-averse, but call me "alive."

    August 4, 2011 at 12:44 am | Report abuse |
    • jesse

      To me, the risk averse are not alive at all. Life without risk is purgatory. This brave, smart, adventurous woman should be a role model to the rest of us.

      August 4, 2011 at 1:32 am | Report abuse |
  5. cindy

    And we complain about little things.

    August 4, 2011 at 12:59 am | Report abuse |
  6. Shaun

    I think she's beautiful? would love to see pictures of the rest of you basement dwellers...

    August 4, 2011 at 1:14 am | Report abuse |
  7. Curt

    Next time someone says you should go for a relaxing hike I'll remember this...

    August 4, 2011 at 1:16 am | Report abuse |
  8. danat86

    3 days? fighting for survival by eating berries for 3 days? You fight for survival when you eat nothing for a week, not 3 days. An average college student can survive by not eating for 2-3 days. Hell, there were times when I didn't eat anything for 4 days and only drank a bottle of water.

    August 4, 2011 at 1:22 am | Report abuse |
    • chris

      good for you, but crossing the US/Mexico border into the US illegally is against the law!!

      August 4, 2011 at 1:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Rex Remes

      He he. Good one Chris, good one.

      August 4, 2011 at 2:17 am | Report abuse |
  9. marie

    Damn with so many people out of work, you'd think CNN could hire somebody who used "a" and "an" correctly. In the opening sentence, too. Ouch.

    August 4, 2011 at 1:34 am | Report abuse |
  10. ledzeppelinsux

    There is a bounty of water, berries and bugs in this region after the excessive rain. It would have been easy to last that long.

    August 4, 2011 at 1:39 am | Report abuse |
  11. Shawn

    Wonder what kind of caterpillars she ate...most of them are poisonous.

    August 4, 2011 at 1:43 am | Report abuse |
  12. haha

    it's people like you that just ruin the news for me. coming from a democrat.

    August 4, 2011 at 1:44 am | Report abuse |
  13. Tyokol

    The picture was obviously taken after she was recovered from the fall. You can see her jaw was unsettled by the impact after plummeting 50 feet and landing on her face.

    August 4, 2011 at 1:49 am | Report abuse |
  14. David

    She's kinda hot in a lean body mass sort of way. I bet she's got a rockin' hiker body.....

    August 4, 2011 at 2:07 am | Report abuse |
  15. ohyouknow

    what kind of oregon trail was she on?! props to her! real life (wo)man vs wild!

    August 4, 2011 at 2:08 am | Report abuse |
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