She survived a 100-foot fall and four days in the wilderness with her dog by her side. Now an Edmonds school teacher is sharing her story, and how thankful she is for the search and rescue crews who found her.
40-year-old Kim Haines and her dog Rainey spend their summer days exploring trails in our area. The marathon runner decided to hike with her dog to the peak of Mount Teneriffe near North Bend last week.
About 12 miles into their hike, they took a wrong turn. And then a misstep led to a fall, approximately 114 feet down the face of a cliff.
"I started tumbling," Haines said. "It reminded me of when I was in a car accident as a teenager. I really don't know how I fell. I was seeing the sky and the ground."
"I don't remember slamming into anything I just stopped and screamed, 'No,' out loud," she said. "And then mentally I'm thinking, 'This is how I'm going to die?'"
Haines chuckled saying, "I have a gift for falling." As a testament, her Instagram has a collection of photos showing a few scrapes she's suffered as a runner.
Battered and bruised, she called for Rainey who found a way to scramble down to Haines. Her cell phone was gone.
"I'm stuck here. I'm just going to have to wait. I really thought my husband would come home from work at seven, call the sheriff, and there would be helicopters coming over the ridge for me, and I'd be home at 10 at night."
She ended up spending three more days lost in the wilderness.
"I had big bumps on the back of my head and it was bleeding a lot," Haines said.
Later she learned she also had a fractured rib, lower back, and left elbow.
She drank water from streams and ate wild berries. She had a jacket and a space blanket to stay warm. The worst part – the flies that kept attacking her. Haines remembered feeling confident she'd survive but scared her dog would starve to death.
"I felt guilty that my husband thought I was dead," she said.
Meanwhile, King County Search and Rescue was using technology to narrow their search. Before Haines lost her phone, she used it to call her husband and check her voicemail. Those pings were crucial and pointed SAR to the Dixie Peak area.
Haines was determined to hike out. During her time lost, she heard and spotted helicopters off in the distance. But in a combination of bad luck and bad timing, whenever they flew over, she was under the trees.
"It was frustrating," she said. "I had my space blanket, and I was waving it, but they flew over me."
She eventually decided to stay put near a stream.
On day four, searchers on foot finally found her. Haines remembers hearing Rainey bark and then hearing voices. She yelled, "Help!" and saw two helmets.
"You're going to be okay," they said to her.
"I was totally dumbstruck," she said.
Family and friends cheered in the background, as Haines climbed off the helicopter, Rainey not far behind.
In the ambulance, she told everyone the words they waited all week to hear: "I'm okay. I'm okay."
"I'm overwhelmed by the organization," she said of Search And Rescue. "Three counties of search teams, around the clock. It's humbling. It's incredible they volunteer to do this."
Besides getting lost and falling, her biggest regrets are not having the 10 essentials for hiking, like having matches, a compass, a map, and extra clothes.
Haines has written a story of her experience to use as a narrative writing lesson with her class this fall.
Photos: Mount Teneriffe hiker rescue
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