Madeline Connelly, a 23-year-old woman who had been missing for a week in northwest Montana's Great Bear Wilderness, was found safe Wednesday.
Flathead County Sheriff Chuck Curry said a Glacier National Park trail crew found Connelly around 11 a.m. in the Spruce Creek drainage, around five miles from the trailhead where she'd left her car.
The sheriff was conducting a training exercise with Two Bear Air’s helicopter at the time, along with Michael Goguen, who funds all of Two Bear Air’s operations. The helicopter flew to the site and airlifted Connelly to West Glacier, where she was treated and released by a medical team before being reunited with her family.
Curry said Connelly didn’t have anything with her, and had been without food since she got lost. She was not carrying a water bottle, but drank from a creek.
"All I had was overalls, a sweater with a hood, a T-shirt, my dog's leash, my dog and my car keys," Connelly said told KTMF-TV Wednesday. "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."
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.
Her dog, Mogi, was also found alive, and walked out with the trail crew, Curry said.
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The search for Connelly — who lives in Arizona and was in Montana visiting family — started Saturday
The Flathead County Sheriff's Office, Two Bear Air, Glacier National Park rangers, U.S. Forest Service personnel and members of both the North Valley and Flathead search and rescue teams, Curry said, thanking everyone who participated.
“It was a huge group effort. We had a ton of people searching for her,” the sheriff said.
Connelly said she had no idea people were searching for her.
"I just kind of wanted to say thank you to everyone that put in all of this effort in helping me," she said, sounding hoarse.
Connelly's mother called her daughter's rescue the best Mother's Day gift ever. She also thanked those who searched for her daughter and prayed for her safe return.
Connelly's uncle Dan Fioravanti told the Missoulian he got a call from Madeline's mother Laura on Wednesday with the news. Fioravanti, who now lives in Illinois but was a resident of Whitefish and East Glacier for years and said he’s an experienced mountaineer, said he was shocked when he heard his niece was alive.
“We were all hoping and at the same time knew the odds,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.