How 85-year-old Ruby Stein and her cat survived five frigid days stranded in the Colorado mountains |

How 85-year-old Ruby Stein and her cat survived five frigid days stranded in the Colorado mountains

Self-described “farm girl” Ruby Stein from Akron, Colorado, took a wrong turn on her way home that nearly ended her life.

By JESSE PAUL | | The Denver Post
Ruby Stein, 85, is pictured with her cat Nikki and her 2007 Nissan Sentra.
Provided photo

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 in her slight drawl, “it was a normal life until this happened.”

Stein said she 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.

“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.”

One wrong turn

Stein had decided to make the 245-mile trip from Akron to see her granddaughter Alee Preuss because three years had passed since she last saw Preuss and her four children.

“I thought, ‘I want to run over and see them for a little while,’ ” Stein said.

Read the full story in The Denver Post.

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