Mt. Shasta, CA.- “It was straight from a nightmare."
That's how Abilene Bushong describes her near-death experience on Mt. Shasta.
Bushong and her hiking partner, Duncan, were descending the mountain Thursday morning.
This was the last leg of their 448-mile hike. For the last five week, Abilene and Duncan had been hiking the Siskiyou Peaks Trial based on the book the Arai Zoner.
According to Zoner, they were 14 miles from the end.
“We walked over 400 miles through the Siskiyou mountains, summiting each mountain and each wilderness area along the way. Shasta was the finale, the end of the journey," said Bushong.
She and Duncan were on their way down the mountain, when they got to a section that didn't match the description and direction they were looking for.
“I felt doom in my stomach. I was crying. We were going down towards the Whitney Glacier," described Bushong. "I didn’t know if was the Whitney Glacier. I didn’t even know it was a glacier. I just thought it was a snowfield."
The pair decide to glissade down what they thought was a snowfield. Bushong says they weren't sliding down more than 20 second before they launched into the air.
"Everything was white. And we just launched into the air and we were flying and we were at the whim with whatever’s happening. There’s nothing I can do.”
Bushong says Duncan landed before her and broke her fall. She then slide down on crevasse about 20 feet. She says she was disoriented and upside down, but conscious.
“The first thing I heard, Duncan put his head over the hole and said, ‘Are you alive?’," said Bushong.
Bushong says the only thing that stopped her from falling further down was a tiny ice shelf, about the size of her backpack.
“If I had just slipped another inch I would have gone down the tunnel and never been found. I would have been out of sight. No one would have ever heard me. I would have been gone," said Bushong.
She says couldn't feel pain at the time, just cold. It wouldn't be until later she learned the full extent of her injuries.
Of the two hikers, Bushong was the only one with a cell phone. She said it was a miracle that she had service in the crevasse.
Bushong call 911 and waited three hours for the helicopter and her rescuers to arrive.
“At that point, I was like ‘oh my god, they’re going to save me. I’m going to be okay,'" described Bushong.
She was flown to Mercy-Mt. Shasta.
Bushong says she doesn't have health insurance so she turned down an x-ray. The doctors checked her over and cleared her to leave.
“All I wanted was to go home. I just wanted to be safe in a bed. I wanted to be warm.”
Bushong has bumps, bruises and cuts to her face and legs. She's a little worried she might have fractured her hip, but she's hopeful it's just a deep bruise.
She admits that she was not prepared to on the mountain and her fear got the better of her.
“I just need to listen to my own intuition better. I knew we weren’t going the right way and I ignored it cause I was so afraid," said Bushong.
It may be the last of her attempts at mountaineering, but Bushong says it definitely isn't her last time on the trail.
"I love the trails, and I'll never stop hiking the trails."
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