(CBS News) -- When Cathy Frye and her husband Rick McFaralnd arrived at Big Bend Ranch state park last Wednesday, they set out for what was supposed to be an afternoon hike, but by nightfall they were lost and in trouble.
“We discovered that there had been quite a bit of rain and what looked to be flash flooding that had knocked a lot of the trail markers out of the way,” said Frye.
Tired and out of water the couple had no choice but to spend the night outside.
The next day they tried, but failed to find their way back. After another night in the elements, hypothermia began to set in.
By day three, Frye told her husband she could barely walk anymore.
“That’s, that’s when I told him that he needed to go, he needed to leave me,” she said.
“I knew one of us has to go, because if we stay there we’re gonna die, there was just no way around it,” said McFarland.” “We said our ‘I love you’s’ to each other and she wanted me to tell the kids to make sure to let them know she tried.”
Exhausted, dehydrated and growing delirious, McFarland wandered for hours, passing out several times until he managed to find help.
“The next thing you know there are about a dozen guys there, I didn’t know where they came from,” he said.
Nearly 40 rescuers were involved in the search and as they looked for any sign of Frye, the 43-year-old was hanging on for life.
“I was pretty incoherent,” she said. “I had taken my clothes off. I don’t know where they were. I was laying just out in the elements.”
It would be two days before crews finally spotted Frye a little more than a mile from where the couple had started out all those days earlier.
Fernando Rincon Jr. of the Texas State Park Police was among the first to reach her
“We stopped and just listened, and we heard a faint ‘help’ and we looked down and there was Cathy, about 50 yards below us,” said Rincon.
“They took their own clothes, they put their socks on me, they put their shirts collectively on me,” she said. “It was just a surreal moment”
A helicopter airlifted Frye to the hospital where she’s still recovering from the incredible ordeal.
“She’s alive and I won’t have to be without her and I get to take her home,” said McFarland.
McFarland said he used the zoom on his camera to help find his way back. He’s a photographer and she’s a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Both are award-winning journalists and have been with the same paper since the 1990’s.