Lost Hiker Says She’s ‘Extremely Thankful’ for Volunteers Who Rescued Her

by Caitlin Berard
(Photo by Deborah Wolfe via Getty Images)

Back in September, Lorna Greenway moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, in search of new adventures. Though she’s only lived there for six weeks, she fell in love with the Chihuahuan Desert right away. Its endless supply of outdoor activities was everything she dreamed it would be, and she immediately set out to tackle each and every one of the trails in the area, completing one trail every day.

For her most recent adventure, Greenway chose the Indian School Rocks trail, a 2.2-mile loop in the Sandia Foothills Open Space Park. It’s rated as easy, with less than 400 feet in elevation gain, and takes a mere 1 hour on to complete on average. To an experienced hiker like herself, Lorna Greenway assumed it would be a piece of cake.

She set out for the trail late one morning, estimating she would be done in plenty of time for a late lunch. Greenway walked and walked, far exceeding the gentle 2-mile stretch of her planned route. As the sun began to drop below the horizon, the hiker conceded defeat and called her husband for help. Her phone then died, cutting off communication with her family and preventing any contact with rescue crew members on the way.

Greenway’s husband wisely contacted Albuquerque Mountain Rescue, who set out for the Sandia Foothills and the lost hiker. The clock was ticking, however, as autumn weather in Albuquerque is a far cry from the sweltering heat of the summer. Without the sun’s warmth, temperatures were dropping fast, heading toward freezing. “I waited, and I waited, and I started to get really, really cold,” Greenway recalled to KRQE.

Hiker Rescued After 16 Hours in the Sandia Foothills

As the hours ticked by, the stranded hiker inched closer and closer to hypothermia. Thankfully, Albuquerque Mountain Rescue found her before a dangerously low body temperature could take hold. “I kept calling and kept calling,” she explained. “And eventually, they got close enough to say, ‘Lorna! Is that you?’ And I said yes.”

After a staggering sixteen hours in the New Mexican wilderness, rescue volunteers successfully led Lorna Greenway out of the trail at around 4:30 in the morning. “I’ve heard stories about other people being rescued, you know,” she explained. “I thought, eh, that would never happen to me because I’m too careful. And, uh…it happened.”

With more than 40 years of experience on the country’s countless hiking trails, Lorna Greenway said that she “couldn’t be” afraid, even under the looming threat of hypothermia. That doesn’t mean, however, that she isn’t immensely grateful for the efforts of the Albuquerque Mountain Rescue team. “Yeah, I’m extremely thankful for those guys,” Greenway said.

Lorna Greenway explained that the incident isn’t going to prevent another trip to the Sandia Foothills. Next time, though, she’ll tackle the area with an awareness of its unique challenges and come better prepared. “It’s new territory,” Greenway explained. “It’s a new challenge.”