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4-Year-Old Girl Walked Miles in Subzero, Wolf-Filled Siberia to Aid Sick Grandma

Meanwhile, we ordered Seamless to avoid some icy puddles.
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In news that will make you question everything you have ever accomplished, a four-year-old Russian girl is making headlines for walking five miles through the woods in subzero weather to find help for her dying grandmother. Dubbed by media outlets as "Little Red Riding Hood," she's being hailed as a local hero for her bravery.

According to media reports, Saglana Salchak was living with her grandparents in Russia's Tuva republic, near the Mongolian border, when one night last month, she woke to find that her grandmother had fallen ill and wasn't moving. Because they lived on a remote farm deep in the woods, Saglana's grandfather, who's blind, sent her to get help. He reportedly didn't realize it was five in the morning.


"The four year old took matches, which she could use to light a fire," The Siberian Times reported, "and followed the tracks of a horse sled, partly on a frozen river, which she knew led to the neighbour's home." The journey through chest-high snow drifts took her about six hours; it was 29 degrees below zero outside.

"It was very cold and I was so hungry," she told media. "But I wasn't scared. I was just walking, walking, walking. And I finally got there."

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Aside from the freezing weather, another risk Saglana faced was coming across a pack of wolves, local emergency personnel pointed out. "Bears are hibernating now, but Tuva is crowded with wolves," said Semen Rubtsov, head of the search and rescue in Tuva. "They plague the cattle, and shepherds groan because of them. In the dark she could easily have stumbled on a pack. This girl was lucky that she did not meet them."

She did, however, catch a cold, which she recovered from at a local hospital. Unfortunately, her grandmother died that day; she had a heart attack. Additionally, local authorities have reportedly opened a criminal case against her mother for allegedly putting her daughter in danger.

Kellie Nightlinger is a wilderness survivalist with Wild Women Outdoors, based in Alaska. She calls Saglana's story of survival "extraordinary."

She says she's especially amazed at the fact that the girl brought matches with her on her journey. "The number one thing that I teach people when they go out into the wilderness is to have some kind of means to make fire," she tells Broadly. "I teach people to have multiple ways to make fire because oftentimes one may fail. Usually when I go out I'll take three different ways: matches, a lighter, and flint and steel."

For a similar journey through below freezing temperatures, Nightlinger says she'd recommend an adult (not a four-year-old girl) pack different layers of clothing, including an outside layer made with a material that will wick away moisture, and extra socks. Additionally, she'd recommend some kind of emergency shelter, such as a small sleeping bag or a tarp. "You never know if you might have to actually spend the night in one location, if you were to fall and break a leg, or the weather changes and you get weathered in." And, of course, food and water.

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"The average person would be much more prepared and probably have a lot more apprehension," she says, "but probably growing up in those types of surroundings, [Salgana] had been taught by family members the way of that land. To her, it was probably a risk worth taking for someone she loved."

"It's simply amazing that she was able to do that," Nightlinger continues. "It would have been a testament of survival for anyone of any age, let alone a four-year-old."