ARIZONA (CBSMiami) – A vacation to the Grand Canyon spiraled out of control over the weekend for a couple and their son.
It could have ended in disaster, but thankfully worked out in the end for Eric and Karen Klein and their 10-year-old son.
The family from Pennsylvania was sightseeing near the Grand Canyon when winter weather moved through.
"I don't think they realized that Grand Canyon National Park is actually closed," said Kristen Haase, Karen's identical twin sister.
Haase says the family got off track when their GPS stopped working and their car ran off the road.
Without cell service, the only option was to walk for help.
An experienced outdoorsman, Karen set out first, trying to reach a highway several miles away.
"She was on vacation, didn't bring winter boots," Haase said.
Haase says when her sister reached the highway it was closed, so she kept going – hiking nearly 26 miles overnight.
"What kept her going was she didn't want her mother to bury her daughter. She didn't want her twin to be without a sister, so she kept going," Haase said.
The local sheriff's department says when Karen didn't return, her husband Eric walked until he had cell phone service and called 911.
Karen had made her way to a seasonal cabin and was rescued by a search party after hiking for more than 30 straight hours.
"We're turning 47 next week, we're not 22 anymore. I can believe she had the mind to do it, because much of that toughness is in the mind," Haase said.
Karen's husband and son are OK.
She is still in the hospital, in good spirits but sore.
Haase says Karen is looking forward to returning home and her twin-intuition tells her she's not ruling out a return trip to the Grand Canyon.
"I do believe that she would like to go back to actually see it, but I can guarantee you she won't go in the winter," she said.
Karen has several triathlons under her belt, and her sister says it's likely because of that endurance training that she was in good shape and able to survive that ordeal.
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