EAGLE COUNTY " Emily Thompson slept in a small cave with a rain jacket draped over her bare legs as she waited for searchers to locate her Monday night.
It was "not the best sleep ever," said Thompson, 31, of New York City.
Thompson began her hike at 8 a.m., Monday, with her neighbor, who decided not to summit the 14,005-foot Mount of the Holy Cross as Thompson did. On the way down, Thompson lost the trail and tried to take a "shortcut" toward where she thought the trail was. She didn't get off the trail until Tuesday night.
"The trail is marked by stacks of rocks and it can get confusing when you're climbing over stacks of rocks," Thompson said.
Thompson called her mother, Sheila Thompson, who was supposed to pick her up at the trailhead at 4:30 p.m. Monday, and told her she would be late. That was before Thompson knew she was lost, she said.
Around 5:30 p.m., Thompson called 911 on her cell phone. Authorities thought they could find her through Global Positioning System, but Thompson's cell phone didn't have that, she said.
So Thompson spent the night in a boulder field with a Camelback with some water, a rain jacket and a hooded sweater, nuts, granola bars, cereal, two apples and two bananas, she said.
"I like to be prepared in terms of food," said Thompson, who has hiked in the Vail area often and once reached the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Rescuers, who asked her to stay put, stopped searching for her Monday night because they could not find her even though she tried to describe where she was, she said.
"They had to figure out where on the side of the mountain I was," Thompson said. "Obviously, it's a big mountain.
"I was concerned about her being out overnight on the mountain because I knew she wasn't prepared for it," said Sheila Thompson, of Denver, who also owns a home in Vail.
Rescuers called Thompson at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday to let her know they had started searching for her again, Thompson said. They saw Thompson sitting on a rock shortly after 11 a.m. in the boulder field off the Half Moon Trail, which leads to the summit of Mount of the Holy Cross.
More than an hour later, rescuers reached her and gave her water and an egg-and-cheese sandwich.
"I think I was on the last sip of my Camelback," she said.
They hiked for several hours on a game trail with beaver ponds and oxbow lakes before reaching the Cross Creek Trailhead into Minturn, Thompson said.
"I felt great," Thompson said. "I was so happy to come home."
Next time, Thompson will bring a map, space blanket and a whistle, she said. She planned to go hiking Wednesday afternoon, she said.
Staff Writer Steve Lynn can be reached at 748-2931 or firstname.lastname@example.org.