May 11, 2017 11:57 AM


A 23-year-old Illinois native and her dog were found alive in a heavily wooded area in Montana on Wednesday after she went missing nearly a week before, Flathead County Sheriff Chuck Curry tells PEOPLE.

Madeline Connelly was visiting her uncle in Montana en route to her new job managing a bakery in Alaska when she decided to go on a hike in Great Bear Wilderness near Glacier National Park with her dog, Mogi.

“She was very happy that her adventure was finally over,” Curry tells PEOPLE.

According to ABC Fox Montana, Connelly told reporters in the park after her rescue that she had run out of water for her dog during the planned day hike. After stopping at a lake to swim and hydrate, she said the pair took a wrong turn.


“After the first night I realized I was in the wrong place,” Connelly said. “But I thought if I kept going, I’d be by the same loop of a trail and I would get out and then I ended up at a lake and I was like ‘this is not right.’ “

Connelly said they rested for two days, and she estimates that she hiked about 10 miles a day with Mogi.

Family members found her Subaru Outback abandoned at the trailhead, and rescue workers launched a full-scale search by air and land by Saturday, according to ABC 7. The group used horses to navigate the difficult and isolated terrain, as well as search dogs and infrared cameras. The search intensified after bear tracks were discovered over human footprints, but the Flathead County Sheriff’s department said there was no evidence she had been attacked or confronted by a bear, per the news outlet.

Even after spending six days in the wilderness, Connelly reportedly offered to hike out with the rescue crews after she was located, but they insisted that she take a helicopter, according to ABC Fox Montana.

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Connelly reunited with her parents at Glacier National Park headquarters, who had traveled to Montana to assist with the search.

Connelly later told the reporters the entire incident was “just a huge mistake,” adding that she felt “like an idiot” for getting lost.

“I didn’t know what was going on out there. I kind of just thought I was going to make it out to my car [that] morning and go get a Coke and go out to my uncle’s house.” she said.

Connelly’s mother, meanwhile, expressed heartfelt gratitude for her daughter’s safe return.

It’s “the best Mother’s Day gift ever,” she said, per ABC Fox Montana.

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