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Hiker Rescued After 17 Days Missing Shares Incredible Story Of How She Survived

The times when hope is hardest to come by is typically when it's needed the most. Keeping the faith isn't easy — and when you or your loved ones have been separated and put in perilous situations, it's downright nightmarish.

So it's always wonderful to hear that hope can pay off, and these situations can have happy endings.

On May 8, Amanda Eller wanted to spend some time out in nature, so she went for a hike.

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As KHON reported, the 35-year-old Hawaiian physical therapist picked a nice, scenic spot: the Makawao Forest Reserve on Maui.

And, just to make things a bit more interesting, she took a different route into the bamboo forest than she normally would. That's where things started to go wrong.

While she was out, she stopped to meditate.

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Many people do out there — it's a wonderful, peaceful area. However, Amanda also napped, and when she woke up, she couldn't figure out where she had parked her car.

Worse, she hadn't told anyone exactly where she was headed, and she hadn't brought her phone with her.

She had no idea that she would spend the next 17 days lost in the forest.

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She tried her best to reach civilization, hiking in wet shoes and socks until one night, she left her shoes out to dry and they were washed away.

She foraged for berries and guava to eat, slept in pig beds at night, and drank river water only when it was clear so she could be sure it wouldn't make her sick.

Every time a helicopter flew overhead — at least 20 times — she tried to flag it down, waving her arms overhead.

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But none of them spotted her, and things started to get worse for Amanda. She got a sunburn on her legs and feet so bad that it got infected, and she fractured one of her ankles.

With just the odd berries to eat, she lost between 15 and 20 pounds.

However, her friends and family never gave up hope that they would find her, and they never stopped searching.

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Her car had been found, so they knew where to start looking. Facebook groups asking people to look out for her were set up.

A GoFundMe campaign to pay for search and rescue efforts was started.

Amanda's friend Javier Cantellops was part of the search team.

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On May 24, he and two others, Troy Helmer and Chris Berquist, rented a helicopter with some of the GoFundMe money to continue the search.

Over the forest, with about 15 minutes of fuel left in the tank, they made a fateful decision about which direction to take their search in, and found her.

Amanda had gotten herself into a ravine between two waterfalls, an area with little food.

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By that time, she was feeling pretty grim. "It came down to life and death and I had to choose. I chose life," she said. "I wasn't going to take the easy way out. Even though that meant more suffering in me for myself."

Javier, Troy, and Chris were just as happy to find Amanda as she was to see them.

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"I've been looking at pictures of that girl 100 times a day. It was no mistake that it was her," Chris said. "We were freaking out. We were trying not to trip over ourselves trying to get to her too fast."

Troy said that their timing couldn't have been much better.

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"She was foraging for food, and she was just about to jump down a 70-foot waterfall and if she would have she would've jumped into a box canyon, and she wasn't going to come out," he said.

Needless to say, Amanda went right to the hospital.

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"It was to my surprise when I came in today that Amanda ended up being my patient," said her doctor, Dr. Zora Bulatovich. "Tears came running down because we've all been following her story and it's beautiful news. So this morning I went in to see her, she looks amazing. I tell you what she's been through, I can't believe she did was she did with that kind of fracture. But she'll recover from it."

Amanda's mom, Julia, said she always knew she'd be reunited with her daughter.

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"I felt in my heart she was alive," she said. "I never gave up hope for a minute. Even though at times I would have those moments of despair, I stayed strong for her because I knew we would find her if we just stayed with the program, stayed persistent and that we would eventually find her."

Amanda has since been released from hospital and is recovering.

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"She's a trooper, man; she's a real warrior," Julia said. "And I had no doubt that if anybody could make it through, it was her."


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