Amanda Eller set out one morning on an average hike in Hawaii, or so she thought. She wanted to take a quick breath in the woods so she lefts all of her things in her car and went for a stroll that soon turned into a nightmare.
You see, even though she had intended to be gone no longer than a short while, she soon found herself lost. What was meant to be a 10-minute walk turned into 17 days lost in the wilderness? That’s more than two weeks spent living off of the earth in the thick and treacherous Hawaiian forest.
Eller, a 35-year-old yoga instructor, and physical therapist, thought that she was walking back toward her car but ended up in the exact opposite direction, traveling deeper into the unknown. There were definite dangers to being caught unawares in the forest, including wild boars which are known to be aggressive.
At first, no one knew what to think when Eller went missing, especially because her phone, wallet, and water were locked in her vehicle. She could have been abducted and no one knew where to start looking. Luckily, Eller’s family believed they would find her and even hired teams to search for her, putting out a $50,000 reward for anyone with information on how to find her.
The days and nights spent within the forest were harrowing for Eller. She had left in nothing but some capris and a thin tank top, which are no barrier to the elements that accosted her. Due to the shade and the mist of the forest, it could get down into the 60s at night, and Eller blanketed herself in leaves and ferns to stay warm.
Once she realized she was lost she kept walking. The right thing to do when lost is to find a shelter or source of water and stay put, but Eller was convinced she was not far from her car and that if she just kept going she’d be alright. We all tell ourselves such things in times of trouble and no one can really blame her. Being put in that situation changes everything.
Eller fell off a cliff with a drop of at least 20 feet and fractured her leg, much more dangerous than a break or a sprain because it can crumble and worsen if not properly splint. She also managed to lose her shoes in a flash flood and was soon traveling barefoot as well.
Food was scarce for someone who isn’t used to trying to live off of the land, and she ate what she could find. This included drinking river water, which she stayed near thankfully, and eating fruit and other plants she found.
This is also not usually recommended if you aren’t familiar with the local flora and fauna because you accidentally poison yourself or make yourself worse. If you’re already having trouble keeping up your energy levels and hydration you don’t want to be stuck with something that makes you sick in the bowels. That can worsen your chance of survival.
Eller knew she wasn’t doing well. Without adequate protection from the elements and a few injuries along with her fractured leg and no shoes, it was tough going. She found her spirit and hope waning as she pushed forward, but she knew she’d make it. She had to.
The jungle is not for the faint of heart to travel, nor the unprepared. Nature is beautiful, yes, but it is also unforgiving. There’s no room for mistakes, and poor Amanda Eller had made nothing but continuous mistakes.
Abrasions covered her lower legs, and the meniscus in her knee was torn. She was suffering from sun exposure and was having trouble continuing walking. That was most likely due to the fact that she was traveling barefoot over ground that should have been traversed with heavy footwear.
Near the end of it, she was hearing helicopters but no one had spotted her. Finally, a team of rescuers spotted her waving emphatically from a dry creek bed at the bottom of a ravine, some seven miles from where she began. This may not seem like a lofty distance, but with how hard it is to travel the jungle it was the equivalent of about 30 miles. Rescuers were flabbergasted.
Finally speaking out about her 17 days lost in the Hawaiian wilderness, Amanda Eller spoke nothing but relief and positivity. IN fact, her rescuers snapped a selfie with her and you’d never know the ordeal she went through as her enthusiasm shines in her easy smile.
“There were times of total fear and loss and wanting to give up, and it did come down to life and death, and I had to choose. I chose life,” she said a few hours later.
We all can only hope that if we are ever put in a similar situation that we face it with the tenacity and strength that Amanda Weller did.