That's what Lauren Elizabeth Weinberg, a 23-year-old Arizona State University student did, and it got her name in the headlines. Not that getting headlines for this sort of thing is desirable, but at least she survived her ordeal without much damage.
The whole thing started when Lauren decided to take a drive in the mountains of northeast Arizona, not knowing that a vicious sub-freezing winter storm was about to clobber the region, laying down a blanket of several feet of snow. According to her rescuers, the young lady didn't understand that those forest roads are impassible during the winter.
When the car became stuck, Lauren hunkered down and spent the next 10 days nibbling on candy bars and drinking water she melted from snow. She turned the snow into water by packing it into water bottles and setting them on top of the car so the sunshine could do the melting. A good tactic.
Authorities commented that Lauren's survival was remarkable after such a length of time in near-zero temperatures and with so few resources available. When the car became stuck, she just sat there with 2 candy bars and a bottle of water to keep her alive until some forest service employees happened to ride by on snowmobiles 10 days later checking gates. They weren't even looking for her, because no search was underway. It was pure luck.
What she did wrong:
- she didn't let anyone know where she was going and when to expect her to return
- she didn't check the weather ahead of making the trip
- she didn't understand that the roads were impossible to drive in the winter
- the vehicle wasn't equipped with survival gear (food, water, clothing, sleeping bag, signaling, fire)
Lauren made the decision to stay with the vehicle, and that probably saved her life in this case. But there was a lot of luck involved, because she had left no "flight plan" with friends, and no official search was taking place to look for her. She might easily have died alone in her car later in the winter, if not for the fortunate arrival of the forest service workers on snow mobiles.
On the other hand, she probably would have died if she had left the vehicle in an attempt to hike out for self-rescue, because:
- she would have been exposed to the bitter cold
- her clothing would have become wet
- she would have been expending caloric energy she couldn't afford
- she would have been increasing her need for water consumption
- she would have been exposed to frostbite and hypothermia
- in all probability she would not have survived