WEST GLACIER, Mont. — A 23-year-old woman who spent a week lost in a Montana wilderness area with her dog thanked her rescuers Wednesday and said she and her parents planned to go get some Mexican food.
Madeline Connelly and her dog, Mogi, planned a day hike in the Great Bear Wilderness on May 4. Connelly said she realized they didn’t have any water and stopped at a swimming hole. When they got back up they took a wrong turn, she told KTMF-TV on Wednesday.
Family members said Connelly, a native of the Chicago area who had been living in Arizona, stopped in Montana to visit before traveling to Alaska where she has a job managing a bakery.
When she didn’t return from her hike they went looking for her. They found her car at a trailhead south of Glacier National Park on May 6 and called law enforcement.
After an extensive search, Connelly was found Wednesday morning in what Flathead County Sheriff Chuck Curry called a heavily wooded area. Two Bear Air Rescue flew her out, although she had offered to hike out, they said.
She was reunited with her parents at Glacier National Park headquarters.
“I just kind of wanted to say thank you to everyone that put in all of this effort in helping me,” Connelly said, sounding hoarse.
Connelly said when she realized she was lost she figured she was on the loop of a trail and if she continued walking she would get back to where she had been.
“And then I ended up at a lake and I was like, well, this is not right,” she said.
Her rescuers estimated she hiked about 10 miles each day. She said she and her dog rested for two days and slept under trees.
They had no food or shelter and no idea of the rescue efforts.
“All I had was overalls, a sweater with a hood, a T-shirt, my dog’s leash, my dog and my car keys,” she said. “I feel like an idiot, honestly, because it was just a huge mistake that it ended up being seven days in kind of treacherous weather conditions.”
Her mother, Laura Connelly of River Forest, Illinois, also thanked her daughter’s rescuers and those who had supported the family. She called her daughter’s safe return the “best Mother’s Day gift ever.”