Shough became stranded after she and her husband took jet skis out on the Columbia River on Saturday afternoon.
"I got stuck on a sandbar," she said. "I called him and said 'come help me.' An hour went by, he still hadn't found me. Probably another half to hour and I started getting worried."
Search crews began to look for her after her husband, Cameron Shough, told boaters anchored near Rooster Rock State Park that he didn't know where she was and he was going to look for her.
Rescuers found Cameron Shough in an anchored boat at 11:30 p.m. Saturday night.
Caity Shough said she knew she had to get off the river, so she swam across the south channel of the Columbia River in the dark from Reed Island to the Oregon shore
"I started trekking through blackberry brush taller than me," she said. "Wheat grass taller than me, cat tails, everything. I've never been through anything like that and won't happen again. At least I'm hoping.
"I was trying to get to I-84. I knew it was there. I knew it was just a matter of getting there and how I needed to get there."
Shough said she was so thirsty that she licked dew off the grass.
She made it to the freeway at about 4 a.m. A Multnomah County sheriff's deputy found her and took her to the hospital.
She has dozens of scratches and bruises, but was not seriously hurt. She lost her voice from hours of yelling and was suffering from onset hypothermia.
"I guess I'm lucky to be alive, but at the same time I guess it never crossed my mind I wouldn't be."