Hawaii hiker who survived 17 days in forest speaks
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Amanda Eller said she wished she prepared more before she went out on the hike.
“I should have had a cellphone with me,” she said. “There’s a reason we carry them all the time.”
She said she usually takes food, water and other supplies when she hikes — but on this one, she decided not to pack.
“Be over-prepared," she told other hikers.
"It's a friendly jungle, there's not much that'll get ya. But still, be prepared."
Amanda Eller said she didn't consume any caffeine, drugs or alcohol before she went out on the hike, after a reporter asked if she took anything that might have altered her mind.
“I get high off of life, and I get high off of people and heart," she said.
Before starting the hike, she had a superfood smoothie and an RXBAR protein bar — but didn't have any coffee or caffeinated tea.
"Everybody can have their little theories," she said of speculation about what led up to her disappearance.
Amanda Eller said she went out on a hike without her cell phone to connect to nature — and she got lost when the feelings that guided her on the journey didn't bring her back to her car.
"And I don't really know what happened. All I can say is that I got out of my car, it's like, you know, I have a strong sense of internal guidance, whatever you want to call that, a voice, spirit — everybody has a different name for it, heart," she said.
She said she listened to those strong callings — until she wanted to head back to her car.
"My heart was telling me, 'Walk down this path, go left,' Great. 'Go right.' It was so strong — 'Go left, go right' — I'm like, great, this is so strong that obviously when I turn around and go back to my car it will be just as strong when I go back, but it wasn't."
Instead, it took her deeper and deeper into the woods.
Amanda Eller said she's grateful for her friends, her family and the complete strangers who "kept this story alive" and continued looking for her.
"That sense of pulling together, that sense of community, that sense of like, ohana and family that we talk so much about here and that true aloha," she said.
Ohana is the Hawaiian value of family and community.
"They could have just forgotten about me and said, another missing person, no big deal," she said. "I'm sitting from the standpoint of being in extreme gratitude for everybody caring so much to pull together and take time out of their own life to re-dedicate their focus of their own life towards me, whether they knew me or not."
Amanda Eller talked about how she spent the night in a wild boar den and frequently followed their tracks as she fought her way through the forest.
"There's boars everywhere through there," she said, "and it's their -- that's their home. I'm in their home. And so I was very respectful of that."
Eller described how she would occasionally see a "nice-looking boar den" that might keep her warm, but she "got a message like, 'don't go in there,'" and so she stayed away. Other times she followed their paths to find new dens.
She added: "This is the Chinese New Year, this is the year of the boar, I'm a boar. So I'm like finding myself sleeping in boar's home. And they were like trailblazing for me."
Amanda Eller, who survived 17 days in a Hawaiian forest, said that while her "hope meter" began declining as the days went on, she never felt alone or fearful.
"This whole journey was extremely spiritual for me, and I never felt alone, and I never felt fearful. It was an opportunity to overcome fear of everything," she said.
She said the time she spent in the forest was an "opportunity" to be "stripped away of all the comforts of this modern world and see what was left."
"And there was such amazing beauty in that," she said.
Eller said that she did begin to feel "invisible" days after she went missing when she started to see search helicopters — but they didn't see her.
"As the helicopters are passing over and not seeing me, I'm invisible. You lose hope. And you're — you know, your hope meter starts to decline a little bit," she said.