By Rick Sallinger

GYPSUM, Colo. (CBS4) – An 85-year-old woman is home safely after being stranded for several days in a remote area 20 miles south of Gypsum in Eagle County.

For five days and four nights Ruby Stein was stuck in the mud in her car, deep in the mountains, but now she is able to tell how she survived.

A wrong turn left her stranded in the middle of nowhere. The car battery died and her phone was useless in the wilderness at 10,000 feet. She showed CBS4’s Rick Sallinger the back seat of her car,

(credit: Dan Higbee)

“Here is my rug. I kept this part against me because this is rubberized and I figured this would be warmer, so I kept this over my legs,” Stein said.

She said she used old clothes in the back of the car to fill gaps in the windows.

(credit: CBS)

For a few brief moments there was hope during the long days and nights.

“I saw a helicopter go over … and I grabbed her (her cat) and hugged her and said, ‘Nikki, they are here to get us.’ But it went on.”

Nikki (credit: CBS)

Finally, by pure chance, hikers Dan Higbee and Katie Preston discovered her car.

“This guy walked up to my car door and said, ‘Are you okay?’ And I said, ‘Well, I’ve been here since Tuesday and this is Saturday.'”

Dan Higbee and Katie Preston (credit Dan Higbee)

After surviving on a sweet roll, a Rice Crispy treat and snow water, she and Nikki were headed home.

CBS4’s Rick Sallinger with Ruby Stein (credit: CBS)

Stein was checked out by paramedics and at a hospital, but for 85 years old, after spending all that time stranded in the mountains she was fine.

CBS4’s Rick Sallinger is a Peabody award winning reporter who has been with the station more than two decades doing hard news and investigative reporting. Follow him on Twitter @ricksallinger.

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