'This whole journey was extremely spiritual': Hawaii hiker who survived 17 days in forest says she never felt fearful

Amanda Eller, 35, called the ordeal an "opportunity to overcome fear of everything" and said a prayer for another missing Hawaii hiker.

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By Janelle Griffith

Amanda Eller, who survived 17 days in a Hawaiian forest eating whatever she could salvage, including berries and river water, said that she never felt alone or fearful.

"This whole journey was extremely spiritual for me, and I never felt alone, and I never felt fearful," Eller told reporters Tuesday at a news conference at the Maui Memorial Medical Center. "It was an opportunity to overcome fear of everything."

She said the time she spent in the Makawao Forest Reserve in North Maui was an "opportunity" to be "stripped away of all the comforts of this modern world and see what was left."

During the news conference, Eller also said a prayer for Noah Mina, 35, who was reported missing on May 20 in the area of Kapilau Ridge Trail, also known as the Saint Anthony Cross, in Wailuku.

"I'm asking with all of these hearts and all of these beautiful people behind this prayer today that we reach Noah, that we are able to touch his heart, to help him in this moment of confusion, to find clarity for, his life, his purpose, his self, to find the love within himself to stay alive," she said, in part.

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Javier Cantellops, one of the rescuers who found Eller on Friday, said over the weekend that he was meeting with Mina's family to put together a search team.

Amanda Eller was reported missing in Maui on May 9.Troy Helmer

Eller, a physical therapist and yoga instructor, said she spent her first week trying to become visible to helicopters after she lost her way in the more than 2,000 acre reserve. She says she fell down a 20-foot cliff and became disoriented.

Eller, 35, had left her water bottle, cellphone and wallet in her car when she embarked on what she thought would be a three-mile hike. She said she began to feel "invisible" days after she went missing as she went unnoticed.

"As the helicopters are passing over and not seeing me, I'm invisible," she said. "You lose hope. Your hope meter starts to decline a little bit."

She was rescued on May 24 when she was spotted by a helicopter team. By that time, she could barely walk. Her shoes were swept away in a flash flood when she was trying to dry them.

She fractured her leg, tore the meniscus in her knee, got a skin infection and severe sunburn in the ordeal.

Asked what she would say to skeptics who doubt her story, Eller said she "wants to focus all of her energy on the positive."

She said she has had "a few disruptive people" approach her and "say some disruptive things."

“I think there’s a lot of confused, delusional people out there,” she said. “I’m not taking it to heart and I’m not taking that energy in. I’m so grateful to be alive.”