Days after 47-year-old mother Karen Klein survived a night in the snowy woods near the Grand Canyon, the lessons from their ordeal were starting to sink in.

Karen Klein and her husband Eric were travelling with their son Isaac, 10, from Bryce Canyon National Park toward the Grand Canyon on the day before Christmas. But when many of the roads they intended to travel were closed, the family decided to take a detour based on their GPS, according to the Coconino County Sheriff. 

‘The road was paved and then became a little more hairy,” Karen told CBS News. “We were thinking this is taking us to the north rim but unfortunately that didn’t happen as the car got stuck in the mud.”

That’s when Karen, a college professor with training in outdoor survival, decided to set out for the main road about 10 miles away and flag someone down or try to get cell phone service. But it would be her husband and son along with rescue crews who would come to her aid instead.

Karen Klein

“It really didn’t feel like there was a point of no return until it started to snow and it was night time and Karen was not in the car any longer,” Eric told CBS News.

Karen walked for 11 hours before finding an evergreen tree for shelter.

“I didn’t want to stop walking because in my mind if I stopped walking I would freeze to death,” said Karen.

The next morning, after Eric and Isaac had not heard from anyone, they climbed to a nearby peak and managed to get cell phone coverage and reach authorities. It was later that day they found Karen as truly a Christmas Day miracle.

“Mentally it’s sort of all sinking in as far as the scope of the whole ordeal,” Karen told CBS News from her hospital bed.

After 26 miles she eventually found shelter in a cabin where searchers finally found her. She told reporters afterward that she had run out of food and water and consumed twigs and her own urine to survive.

“I just kept thinking I have to do this for my son. I have to do this for my husband,” she said.

Photo credit: Flickr