Rescued hiker, sheriff's office staff form friendship
When she was lost on the Mt. Hood National Forest earlier this month, Keenan Granna hadn't met the two community service officers who helped her navigate her way out. But last week, she was able to put faces to people who had already grown into close friends.
Granna, a resident of Vancouver, Wash., stopped by the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office Brooks Building on Thursday, Oct. 24, to thank Community Service Officers Shari Kundert and Carin Sherman, who helped her on Saturday, Nov. 5, when she was lost on the Clackamas River Trail.
Along with providing reassurance, Sherman and Kundert used GPS coordinates from Granna's phone to ensure she was walking in the right direction. After spending two hours on the phone with the community service officers, Granna was able to meet search and rescue officers at the trailhead.
Upon meeting Sherman and Kundert last week, Granna ran to embrace them. She credited their support with giving her the strength to navigate her way back.
"It was so helpful," she said. "I was feeling so dark, scared and cold. It was the loneliest I had ever been. Because I was so afraid, I don't think I could have rallied and encouraged myself."
She added that she was grateful to be able to meet the CSOs.
"I felt that I never was able to properly thank them. Being able to see them, hang out with them and thank them is huge," she said.
Because of Granna's experience, the three share a close bond.
Earlier this month, Granna had embarked on the Clackamas River Trail for an overnight trip in the woods. She was drawn to the Mt. Hood National Forest partially because there is little cell phone service in the area and she wanted an opportunity to disconnect from technology.
However, several hours after she began hiking, she realized she was lost.
"It was pitch black and the fear took over," she said.
She dialed 911 for 10 minutes before her phone connected to the sheriff's office.
"Shari and Carin answered, and a light came through. I could stop for a second and breathe," she said. "Above and beyond doesn't even begin to describe it. They brought back the fight in me when I was too scared to move."
Granna called the CSOs around 9 p.m., and they would talk until she reached the trailhead around 11 p.m.
"They went on my social media and talked about my family and things I like," Granna said. "That distracted me and kept me well mentally."
Upon realizing Granna was a "Hunger Games" fan," Sherman encouraged her to use that interest to her benefit.
"I told her, 'you've got to channel your inner Katniss Everdeen,'" she said.
Granna described Sherman and Kundert as her angels.
"They completely gave me their love. It was very intentional. They were determined to make me feel safe and hopeful," she said.
Sherman noted that it's not very common for community service officers to meet those they assist.
"Usually after we help someone, they say thank you and move on. It's unique to keep that connection," she said.
Sherman credits Granna with staying strong during her experience in the woods.
"Her getting herself out of there was very empowering. It showed her what she's fully capable of," Sherman said. "We feel honored to be a part of it. It's very humbling to be a part of someone's pivotal life moment."
Granna moved from southern California to the Portland Metro Area several months ago to take a position at Transitional Youth, a nonprofit organization that focuses on at-risk teens and young adults in Oregon and Washington.
"They have an unconditional high regard for youth, and that's totally in alignment with my heart," she said.
Sherman added that, "It's great to be able to help someone who's dedicated her life to helping people every day."
Inspired by Granna, Sherman and Kundert plan to start volunteering at Transitional Youth.
"If they can give the type of encouragement they gave me, imagine what they can do for (our clients) if they're feeling alone," Granna said.
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