Woman whose mother survived 13 days alone in Wallowas finishes book

By Jayson Jacoby March 29, 2013 09:14 am

By Jayson Jacoby

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A daughter of Doris Anderson, the Portland area woman who survived for 13 days alone in the Wallowa Mountains in 2007, with little food and only light clothing, has written a book about her mother’s ordeal.

Barbara Moore, who lives in Washington said she submitted the manuscript, titled “Hidden in the Valley,” to her publisher on March 24.

Moore said she hopes the book will be available later this year.

She said she also has talked with entertainment industry representatives about making a movie of her mother’s experience, which generated worldwide headlines.

Both Doris, who was 76 at the time and is 81 now, and her husband, Harold, then 74 and 80 today, still live in the Gresham area.

The couple have been married for 61 years.

The Andersons drove from their home in Sandy to Baker County on Aug. 23, 2007.

The couple planned to camp along Eagle Creek, about 25 miles northeast of Baker City. Harold, who had visited the area the previous year with his son-in-law, Harvey Long, brought along his bow, intending to hunt during the archery season that starts in late August.

The Andersons’ troubles started when their 1999 Chevrolet Tahoe SUV got stuck on a narrow, rough road near Bennet Creek, east of Eagle Creek.

Harold Anderson broke his wrist while moving the couple’s four-wheeler, which was on a trailer. 

The Andersons spent that first night inside their Tahoe.

The next morning, Aug. 24, they began walking toward the main Eagle Creek Road. After stopping for a rest, Doris told Harold that she wanted to go back to their vehicle.

Harold didn’t reach the main road that day and he had to sleep outside.

The next day, Aug. 25, a group of bowhunters found Anderson and drove him back to the Andersons’ SUV.

But Doris wasn’t there.

The hunters then brought Harold to Baker City, where he reported Doris as missing.

Harold also was treated at the hospital for his broken wrist, and for a minor leg injury.

Moore said the family didn’t learn until 2012 that Harold probably had suffered a series of minor strokes in 2007. She suspects he might have had one of those on the day her parents got stuck, and that the stroke might have affected her father’s judgment.

Over the next 10 days, several dozen people searched the forests around Bennet Creek, which is just south of the Eagle Cap Wilderness, but they found no trace of Doris.

By Sept. 6 the search had been scaled back considerably.

Doris had been missing for almost two weeks. During that time the temperature had dropped below freezing, and there seemed little reason to believe that Doris, who had no survival equipment and scarce experience in the outdoors, could have survived so long.

But Travis Ash, a Baker County Sheriff’s deputy, and Sr. Trooper Chris Hawkins of the Oregon State Police, decided on that day to make one more trip to the mountains.

In an interview the next day, Hawkins said the pair was mainly looking for scavenger birds that might lead them to Doris’ body.

But Ash heard something that sounded more like a voice — a child’s voice, he thought — than the harsh caw of a crow or a raven.

It was Doris.

Ash heard Hawkins yell, from near the bottom of a 700-foot ravine: “She’s alive.”

Doris was far from healthy — her most serious problems were dehydration and hypothermia — but neither was she near death.

She was able to talk to her rescuers.

Although Moore said she and her sister, Cheryl Long, had never stopped believing that their mother might survive, their optimism was balanced by the realities of the situation.

“We’d said goodbye to her in this earthly life, and that we’d see her again in the next life,” Moore said on Sept. 7, 2007, the day after her mother was rescued.

“She’s been through tragedy and crisis before, but she’s never had to fight for her life. I never realized she was so tough.”

Precisely how tough is something neither Moore nor the rest of her family learned until Doris had fully recovered.

They found out, for instance, that on Aug. 24, 2007, the day Doris started walking back to her vehicle while her husband went for help, Doris feel asleep while resting beside a stream from which she had gotten a drink.

When she woke up it was dark.

Moore said her mother knew she needed to walk upstream to reach the stranded SUV. But when Doris went that way the moonlight illuminated a mother black bear and three cubs.

Doris was so frightened that she walked the other way, and became lost.

Moore said she decided in September 2007, less than two weeks after her mother was rescued, to write the book.

“I just knew inside of me there was a book, and the title was ‘Hidden in the Valley,’ ” Moore said.

On Aug. 23, 2008, exactly one year after her parents got stuck and her mom’s ordeal began, Moore accompanied Ash and Hawkins to retrace the route they took on the day they found Doris.

Moore also met with Chris Galiszewski, who helped coordinate the search, and with the Forest Service firefighters who rappelled from a helicopter to the spot, just a few feet from Bennet Creek, where Ash and Hawkins found Doris.

Although the experience was of course so singular as to be unforgettable, Moore said one aspect that continues to stand out in her memory is the friendliness and generosity of Baker County residents during the family’s long wait.

“Everyone was so kind and so helpful,”  Moore said.

She hopes her book, besides entertaining and educating readers, will inspire them.

“This is a story that is filled with emotion and inspiration and hope and power,” Moore said. “It’s truly a transformational message. I wrote this for anyone who has every been afraid, or worried, or thought their life had no purpose. I believe that every single life has a purpose, but many people give up before their purpose is revealed.

“I’m just wanting to be a light in this sometimes dark world.”