Rachel and Carolyn Lloyd set off on what should have been a six- to eight-hour hike in New Zealand's Tararua Forest Park Tuesday, but they got lost and then Rachel, 22, got hurt. She slipped in a creek, hitting her head on a rock, and couldn't walk. Temperatures dropped to the 40s each night and they were running out of food. Within days, Rachel was talking about her final wishes with mom Carolyn, 45, because "I was on the verge of dying," she tells TVNZ, per CNN. But the women were saved Saturday, because Carolyn used branches to spell out "HELP" in two clearings.
Search and rescue teams were already looking for the missing American hikers after they didn't return their rental car as planned; the car was found at the base of the hike Thursday. Then, Saturday, a helicopter aiding in the search saw the word "HELP" from the sky. Rachel and Carolyn were taken to a hospital, where doctors told Rachel she had hypothermia and may not have made it much longer. Carolyn had been visiting her daughter, who is studying at a New Zealand university for the semester, the New Zealand Herald reports. (Oddly, "HELP" signs were responsible for two other rescues last month. Stories here and here.)