Grandmother survives four nights stuck in cold near Gypsum
Ruby Stein, 85, used MacGyver-like skills to save herself and cat
March 29, 2017
For about 20 miles, 85-year-old Ruby Stein wrestled her 2007 Nissan Sentra up an unpaved, steep mountain road south of Gypsum. She was lost and searching for Interstate 70 after taking a wrong turn while trying to beat a winter storm home.
Alone, with no one in sight and only a backcountry skier's tracks around her, the steel-haired woman then found herself stuck at a dead end. Stein tried to rev her tiny maroon vehicle back and forth, as she had learned from years of ranching on the Eastern Plains, but her car was swallowed by mud, snow and ice as her cat Nikki looked on with a curious stare.
"I blowed my horn and blowed my horn and flashed my lights until the battery ran down," said Stein, who lives in the northeast Colorado town of Akron. "Then my car went dead. I had a cellphone with me, but it wouldn't work."
"To me," she added through a slight drawl, "it was a normal life until this happened."
Stein ended up spending four nights and five days stranded in the Eagle County wilderness, using MacGyver-like resourcefulness to keep herself alive as snow fell on and off. She rationed what little food she had — a partial sweet roll and a Rice Krispies Treat — and used safety pins to fashion a blanket from the clothes that were in her car.
She scooped up and melted snow in a cat food container to stay hydrated.
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"I was keeping myself very, very calm," Stein said. "I knew I either had to or it was over with. I have too many great grandkids and grandkids. I didn't want it to be over with."
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