The Kiwi hiker who lay injured in a Californian National Park for four days is still buzzing she made it out alive, despite having to learn to walk again.

Claire Nelson, 35, was rescued 10 days ago after she slipped on a rock in Joshua Tree National Park and fell two weeks ago, breaking her pelvis.

Friends raised the alarm when Nelson failed to make contact with them on a prearranged Thursday and a search was launched that Friday. Rescuers found her six hours after the search was launched.

Last Monday Nelson had surgery to repair her shattered pelvis and said the pain had gone from excruciating to manageable.


"I'm feeling really grateful and really happy. I have the odd bad day where the pain and frustration wear me out, but I can't stay in the zone for long. I'm still buzzing that I'm here, that I made it out alive."

She was having to learn to walk again and had managed to move about 12 metres with the aid of a walker.

"While it's slow going, every day brings a little more progress," Nelson said.

"Today my mum and some friends took me out in a wheelchair to sit in the hospital garden, something I couldn't have done a few days ago."

The longest she has been able to sit upright since the accident was 30 minutes so far.

Nelson, who recently moved to Canada after living in the UK for 12 years, is still working through the details with her insurance provider. The Herald reported last week that her stomach was in knots due to uncertainty about whether insurance would cover her medical bills.

As soon as arrangements could be made, she would be returning to Ontario in Canada where she would continue her treatment.

But she had no plans to end her trip early and planned make the most of her two-year working holiday visa, as she was expected to make a full recovery.


"I was so lucky not to have damaged my upper spine. My pelvis will mend in time and I'll eventually get my groove back."

Medical experts had told her it would be about three months before she could walk without a frame or crutches.

Although Nelson admitted she had "shirked" from the rules, her advice to other hikers was not to assume a designated walking trail was safe, carry plenty of water and tell someone where they were going and when they planned to be back.

"Going forward I'm going to be taking a satellite phone or a beacon: a mobile phone without signal is worthless in the wilderness, as I have learned the hard way."

Since the accident, her friends had shared her GoFundMe page to raise money for medical bills and Nelson said she had been blown away by the response.

As of Monday night the page had raised more than $24,000 Canadian dollars, which was about NZ$26,400.

"The first thing I do when I wake up each day is go through and write a thank you to each donor. It's the least I can do."

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