Missing 47-Year-Old Woman Who Survived on Moss and Grass 'Didn't Want to Be Found,' Authorities Say

Authorities discovered the 47-year-old woman in this tent.
Authorities discovered the 47-year-old woman in this tent. (Utah County Sheriff's Office)

Authorities had been searching for her for nearly 6 months, after discovering her car in the parking lot as the area closed for the winter.

A woman who was reported missing in November 2020 was found in Utah’s Spanish Fork Canyon, surviving the winter by eating grass and moss. “This woman, age 47, had lost a significant amount of weight and was weak,” authorities said in a statement. “But she was apparently also resourceful.”

But she wasn’t actually missing, the Utah County Sheriff's Office discovered upon making contact with her. She had chosen to stay out there. The unnamed woman had been sleeping in a tent, had access to fresh water in a nearby lake and brought a small amount of food to supplement what she could forage.

“While many people might choose to not live in the circumstances and conditions this woman did, she did nothing against the law,” authorities said, “And in the future she might choose to return to the same area.”

They first discovered the woman might be in danger around Thanksgiving of last year. Authorities with the US Forest Service discovered a car in the parking lot as they were preparing to close the forest for the season, and later were able to identify who the owner was.

While they were unable to track down her family, authorities tracked down her coworkers and a tip led them to believe she was in Colorado and that she may “struggle with mental health issues,” the statement said. “Believing the car and camping equipment might have been abandoned, Deputies impounded the car and took the camping equipment for safekeeping.”

Earlier this month, deputies renewed efforts to find her by drone. They eventually found her inside her tent.

“The zipper of the tent unzipped, and this woman, who we had identified the previous year in November and December last year, sticks her head out,” Sgt. Spencer Cannon told KFYR. “I have to be honest, we fully expected we wouldn’t find anybody related to that alive up here, given how long it had been. In situations like that, we often find somebody after they passed away. We were quite relieved and happy that she was still alive.”

She was taken to a nearby hospital for a mental health evaluation after authorities found her, but Cannon clarified that there was a good possibility she “didn’t want to be found.”

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