Missing Hiker Found Alive After 9 Days in the Sierra National Forest

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FRESNO --

The Orangevale woman who had been missing in the Sierra National Forest for nine days has been found alive.

Saturday morning, Search and Rescue teams located Miyuki Harwood 19 miles east of Courtright Reservoir.

"She's a fighter. She's a tough girl," paramedic Rusty Hotchkiss said.

Even searchers admit this is an amazing story of survival. The 62 year old veteran hiker had broken her leg on a day hike. But used her resources to stay alive.

"She had a water filter with her, "Hotchkiss said. "She basically crawled from where she was injured down to a creek. It took her about two days to do that, and then she was able to drink from the creek with the water filter that she had to stay alive."

Harwood had no food with her. But she knew helps was on the way, after hearing helicopters in the distance. Then at around 9 a.m. Saturday, she heard voices.

"The search teams on the ground, she heard them talking," Hotchkiss said. "She heard voices, and she grabbed a whistle that she had with her, and blew her whistle. That alerted the rescuers on the ground to be able to find her."

Even after Harwood was discovered, bringing her to safety was a struggle.

"This was a difficult search and rescue in normal circumstances," Sheriff Margaret Mims of Fresno County said. "However, I want to recognize those that helped in these extreme conditions -- not only terrain but of the smoke that they have to breath with the very high altitude."

Pilots had to work around the now 60,000 acre Rough Fire to reach Harwood. They flew low and slow, until finally she was transported to Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno.

"I was uplifted," Sheriff Mims said. "When I was able to see her in the hospital and she was able to speak. Her voice was strong. She was extremely thankful that people were looking for her and that we found her."

Harwood is in the hospital with her family and friends.  There are still around 50 people stranded in the rescue area because of the Rough Fire smoke. Tomorrow, National Guard aircraft will find a window of opportunity to retrieve them.