Ashley Judd Talks Visiting Great Smoky Mountains NP on ’11 Month Anniversary’ of Near-Death Experience

by Jennifer Shea

Actress Ashley Judd endured a harrowing experience in 2021. But now she’s greeting the new year mostly recovered from the ordeal. And she is determined not to hold back on further adventures.

In February of last year, Judd was making her way through a forest in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) looking for endangered bonobos monkeys. A broken head lamp made it hard for her to see the ground in front of her. So she tripped over a fallen tree, breaking her leg, per People.

Judd then suffered through a 55-hour rescue that brought her from the DRC to South Africa for treatment of a leg broken in four spots, nerve damage and internal bleeding. She later returned to the U.S. to recover.

Ashley Judd Visits Great Smoky Mountains NP, Swiss Alps for New Years

Judd shared what she’s been up to lately in a new Instagram post Wednesday morning. And it appears the adventurous actress is not slowing down in light of her injuries now that she’s on the mend.

“Good greetings, 2022. It is nice to see you, on this, the 11 month anniversary of having broken my leg in four places and paralyzing my foot (not to mention nearly hemorrhaging to death),” Judd posted. “I have just walked a nourishing twenty five miles in my #Appalachian home-place, the #GreatSmokyMountainsNationalPark, and then romped up and down our annual New Year snowy paths on an #Alp in #Switzerland. All this has me feeling ready. For what? Yes. #Congo. I return now.”

Judd announced that she wants to return to the DRC and remains fascinated by the endangered monkeys. Bonobos are closely related to chimpanzees, but unlike chimpanzees, the smaller and leaner bonobos tend to be led by females. The main threats they face are poaching, habitat degradation and disease transmission, so hopefully Judd is not looking to make close contact with the sensitive creatures, per the Bonobo Conservation Initiative.

Judd Details Ordeal Last February

In her Instagram post, Ashley Judd went on to sketch out some of the details of her ordeal last February, which left her in shock as colleagues transported her to the hospital in South Africa. She reportedly had to bite on a stick at the time, she was in so much pain.

“I do not yet know what I will feel, I know only that I will feel, and I am ready to greet the experience with curiosity, wonder, and an abundance of gratitude for every life-saving sister and brother who stroked my face, carried my make shift hammock through the rain forest for hours, wept alongside my agony, or simply laid beside me as I bit a stick while in shock,” Judd wrote. “And really, all that is in the past now. What is here, now, is a leg that works (with a wee limp and a some knee stiffness at times), a spirit that won’ let anything hold it back, and a desire to show up for the fullness of a beautiful life – and that life includes the endangered, egalitarian bonobos who live free from coercion. And you. Thank you for walking with me. Peace be with you. Bonobos photo credit Liran Samuni.”

See a picture of bonobos here: