Paula Reuter, 21, along with her dogs, Gracie and Addie, had been missing since Monday, when Reuter lost her way while hiking in the Cascade Mountains east of Seattle.
"She was trapped in a place where there was no way to get out," her mother Isabelle Reuter said.
Reuter faced difficult circumstances, little food and no shelter, wearing a skirt as temperatures plunged into the 40s overnight.
Detective Jason Stanley said Reuter relied on clever survival skills.
"She ate some mushrooms, maybe even ate some tree bark," Stanley said. "She built fires and she was pretty resourceful."
After days of searches, Reuter and her dogs were spotted Thursday by a sheriff's helicopter and airlifted to safety, one by one.
Reuter is scratched and bruised, but otherwise fine. Her dogs are OK, too.
Friends and relatives were thankful after Reuter's rescue.
"We're just happy to have her back," her mother said. "She's our life."