A dirt road in Eagle County is exactly that today. A week ago, it was muddy and covered in snow.
An 85-year-old woman took that road after getting turned around while trying to get on I-70.
Ruby Stein got stuck and spent most of the week stranded with her cat. She spent five days and four very cold nights in her Nissan Sentra.
A wrong turn
Stein was on her way back home to Akron after visiting her granddaughter and four great grandkids in Eagle County.
Instead of getting on the interstate in Gypsum she somehow ended up on an isolated dirt road used more by backcountry skiers than drivers in the winter.
Reliving one of the most worrisome moments of her life, Stein’s granddaughter Alee Preuss said she was “freaking out” when Stein disappeared.
“We didn’t know where we should be looking but we knew we needed go look,” Preuss said.
Her grandmother had spent two days visiting her after four years apart.
“We heard that there was a big snow storm coming so she wanted to beat the snow,” said Preuss.
While driving home, Stein took a wrong turn looking for I-70 and ended up an hour down a dirt road near LEDE Reservoir.
Dan Higbee and a friend spotted Stein’s car while looking for a place to hike.
“Five days is a long time to be worried about how you’re getting out of there,” said Higbee.
Unsure of what or who was in the car, he decided to go down and see.
“I heard a voice coming from the back seat of the car very faint… 'No, I’m not okay I’ve been here since Tuesday and I need help.',” Higbee said.
Beneath all the clothes inside he saw Stein and her cat, Nikki.
“It took a while to get to her because she had kind of barricade herself to get her through the elements,” said Higbee.
Her food source was low.
“She had a Rice Krispy bar left she was trying to ration and she had been eating snow to stay hydrated,” he said.
Still, Stein’s spirits were high.
"She was talking so much and we had to tell her to drink water and eat your sandwich,” Higbee said.
An emotional reuinion
Higbee and his friend called and texted Stein’s granddaughter to let her know they were bringing her home.
Preuss said, “so I was freaking out because someone had my grandma at my house.”
Fighting back tears, Preuss remembers the moment she and Stein were reunited.
“Like nothing I had ever been through before it was amazing and sad but just great at the same time… I was just so thankful,” she said.
Higbee said, “I’m very grateful that we were able to bring her home to you guys.”
9NEWS got in touch with Stein at her home in Akron. She wasn’t up for an interview right away but seemed to be doing well and was in good spirits. So was her cat, Nikki.
Preuss says their family wants Stein to stop driving, but Stein is not sure she is ready to hang up the keys.