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Woman stranded for weeks upgraded to solid food

TWIN FALLS, Idaho (AP) — A Canadian woman who lived off nothing but trail mix, fish oil tablets and candy for seven weeks in the remote Nevada mountains was upgraded to a solid diet Monday, and hospital officials said her spirits were “extremely high” despite nearly starving to death.

A search team mounted horses and all-terrain vehicles in a bid to find her husband, 59-year-old Albert Chretien. He set off on foot March 22 to get help after the couple got stuck on a muddy road in northeastern Nevada while on a road trip to Las Vegas.

Rita Chretien, 56, of Penticton, British Columbia, was scheduled to remain at St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center in Twin Falls, where she was upgraded to a regular diet Monday morning.

She started with yogurt and dairy products and told doctors she prefers rice over potatoes and salads, the hospital said. She will have her choice of six small regular meals per day as she continues physical therapy.

“Her spirits are extremely high,” said hospital spokesman Ken Dey said in a statement. “The medical team is watching her closely, but indicators of her recovery are very good.”

Hunters found Rita Chretien on Friday, after they spotted her van mired in mud on a national forest road in Elko County, Nev., near the Idaho border.

Alone in the rugged and isolated country, Rita Chretien survived on a tablespoon of trail mix, a single fish oil pill and one hard candy a day, her son, Raymond Chretien, said Sunday.

She reportedly lost 20 to 30 pounds during the time she was stranded, and family members and doctors agree she faced the prospect of death had she not been found.

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