Two Maine women who were stranded on a Colorado mountaintop during an ice storm say they are "overwhelmed with gratitude" after hiking out to safety.
Suzanne Turell, 33, and Connie Yang, 32, both from York, say they set out for Longs Peak Sept. 6, prepared for a week of hiking in what was supposed to be decent weather, with daytime temperatures in 80s and the threat of afternoon thundershowers.
Instead, they ended up getting pinned down near the top of the 14,200-foot peak in Rocky Mountain National Park by one of the worst storms in Colorado history.
In a statement released today, Yang and Turrell say their hike began to go wrong on Sept. 11, when the weather took a sudden turn for the worst, as drenching rain turned to ice, sleet and snow.
"We were soaking wet, very cold, occasionally convulsing in shivers, with slowed reflexes and increasing clumsiness and disorientation," the two write. "With the steady rain, sharply dropping temperatures, and poor visibility, we knew we were getting in trouble, fast."
The next day, just as their cell phone battery was running out, they texted for help, not knowing whether their message got through. Then, a lucky break: The weather warmed just enough for the ice to clear. The two women decided that their best chance for survival was to hike down the mountain to a Ranger Station.
After several hours of bushwacking, they were forced to set up the tent for another night. The next day, they hiked 10 more hours in rough terrain, finally making it to the Ranger Station, and to safety. "It was only then that we learned about the destruction and devastation" that had hit Colorado, they say.
Turrell and Yang are urging people to donate what they can to help Colorado recover from the disaster. The two are experienced hikers who work for New Hampshire-based outdoor gear manufacturer NEMO Equipment Inc.
Read their full statement.