Ann Rodgers was on her way to Phoenix to surprise her daughter and grandchildren when she ran out of gas and found herself stranded on a remote stretch of road near Canyon Creek in Arizona on March 31.
The creek sits on the White River Indian Reservation, where she climbed the fence and walked around trying to find cell phone service.
It was then that the 72-year-old became lost.
For the next nine days and nights, she and her dog Queenie ate plants and drank pond water, and huddled in caves and to keep warm—missing her and her grandson’s birthday, which happened to be the same day.
On April 3, officials located her blue Ford Fusion, but after two days of extensive searching, they couldn’t locate her.
Six days later, on April 9, an Arizona police officer spotted Queenie coming out of the woods, and shortly after once more requesting aerial support, they located a “help” sign made of sticks and rocks.
Underneath the sign, hidden under a rock, a hand-written message, dated April the second, stated Rodgers was low on supplies and planned to continue down the mountain.
Just fifteen minutes later and “Further down the canyon, ADPS Ranger discovered what appeared to be a shelter that had been abandoned by Rodgers,” said an emailed statement from public safety. “As ADPS continued the search and rounded a bend in the canyon, Rodgers was located standing next to a signal fire and waving to the helicopter.”
Sources reported Rodgers was 5-pounds lighter, dehydrated and suffering from outdoor exposure, but she was okay.
After her saving, she was brought to an area hospital and was surprised by her family, who she longed to see the entire time.
“I could definitely paint for the next 20 years all the incredibly beautiful canyons, trees, rivers and rocks that I saw,” Rodgers told The Washington Post. “It’s like being in Sedona, Ariz., only multilayered, over and over again. Those incredibly wonderful geological scenes all around me.”