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Hiker, missing for almost month, found with cat in southwestern US national forest
ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (AP) ' A woman who had been missing for nearly a month in a southwestern national forest and who authorities said has a history of mental illness was found emaciated Wednesday in a sleeping bag with her cat by her side, authorities said.
Authorities said Margaret Page, 41, stayed alive by drinking water from a nearby creek and fed her cat, Miya, her cat, with cat food she had packed. She was located by a rescue crew in the Gila National Forest around a mile up the Railroad Canyon Trail in rugged area known as the Black Range in an isolated region of southwestern New Mexico.
That's where authorities believe where Page had purposely gone hiking off a trail with her cat between Feb. 10 and Feb. 12 and set up a camp.
Dave Kuthe, search crew leader, told the Silver City Sun-News (http://bit.ly/wkSzoB) said that Page was found malnourished but well-hydrated and sleeping in a blue sleeping bag. Authorities said she stayed alive by drinking water from a nearby creek and fed her cat, Miya, with cat food she had packed.
"Her cat was in better shape than she was," Marc Levesque, incident commander with New Mexico State Police Search and Rescue, told The Associated Press. "Her cat was also hunting. (Page) ran out of food a while back."
Authorities aren't sure what Page ate after she ran out of food. Levesque said by the time she arrived to Gila Regional Medical Center she was alert and articulate after losing up to 25 pounds (11.3 kilograms).
Lt. Robert McDonald, a spokesman for the New Mexico State Police, said members of the Grant County Search and Rescue and other crews began the search for Page on Tuesday after Page's family notified State Police that Page's car had been found in the Railroad Canyon Campground.
"When they called in at 9 and said we found her, my chin dropped and I said 'is she alive?'" Glenn Tolhurst, operations section chief for the search, told the newspaper. "They said 'she's alive. And she's got a cat.'"
According to weather.com, the area where Page was found camping had seen average highs reach around 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 Celsius) with evening lows in the 20s Fahrenheit (-5 to -6 Celsius). The area did not see much rain or snow, but Page was forced to endure some high winds.
Associated Press researcher Monika Mathur in New York contributed to this report.
Follow Russell Contreras on twitter at http://twitter.com/russcontreras.