After hiking 26 miles over the course of 30 hours through heavy snow and ice, Karen Klein is being hailed as one tough momma.

The 46-year-old triathlete, her husband Eric, and her son Isaac were driving through the Grand Canyon National Park on a family Christmas vacation towards Las Vegas when a blizzard suddenly struck the surrounding area. The family’s GPS kept leading the car down national park roads until the vehicle became stuck in the snow close to the North Rim.

Karen, who had taken survival courses at their home in Pennsylvania was confident in her abilities to handle the elements. She took what little supplies they had and headed out towards the main road in search of help – or at the very least, a cell phone signal to call for help.

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She had already hiked 10 miles when she reached the highway – the signs, however, said that the road was closed due to the snow. More signs indicated that the park entrance was 14 more miles away.

Karen continued on, surviving only by eating pine twigs and drinking her own urine, since hydrating with snow can quickly trigger hypothermia.

The mother eventually found a cabin where she was able to rest from exhaustion.

Meanwhile, Eric Klein became worried over his wife’s absence and went out on his own to find cell reception. When he finally found a signal, he gave rescue workers their location and the family was evacuated to a hospital on Friday. The family is in good health despite some frostbite in their appendages.

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Survival specialists usually recommend staying sheltered in the case of being stranded, however the Klein’s were in much more danger due to the blizzard’s hazardous conditions.

“I kept thinking ‘this is not the way I’m going to go’” Karen told NBC. “I can’t leave my son without a mom. I can’t leave my husband without a wife. I’m not letting my parents bury me. I just won’t”

(WATCH the video below)


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