The following is Kelsey’s journal entry of the mountaintop rescue. This story tells much of what happened while I was in and out of consciousness, a “crazy” dynamic missing from my version of the story. If you’re just tuning in, be sure to read my story (starting with A Slow Pitch to Karma). The discussion will continue next week.
A sunny Sunday morning. The perfect day for hiking with friends, and we were conquering a big one. Preparations had been made by leaving a car at the mouth of the canyon we planned to end our hike in, and we had plans to hitch-hike down once we crossed this beautiful peak. Our journey started up the trail, and once we made our turn-off, things became decidedly steeper. They stayed that way until the very top. Dan, Reuben, and I were troopers, though, and we made it to the top without too many hiccups. Our good friend, Mr. Pearce, was having some leg cramps towards the peak but was able to carry on.
Our reward for climbing this 6 mile, steep devil was the most breath-taking view I have ever seen. At this point, we were all very excited to have reached the top, and stayed a while to take pictures and enjoy the view.
Once we began to move down the other side of this mountain, it became apparent that Dan’s leg cramps were getting worse. We took it slowly, fifty to a hundred feet at a time, and took breaks but not much was helping. We even called Noah’s mom at one point and asked her to google some charlie-horse remedies, but the best we could come up with was bite your lower lip or massage your upper one. Neither of which did any good. We were now down to our last 2 bottles of liquid- one bottle of water and one bottle of Gatorade. We pushed the Gatorade through Dan, and he decided that he would like to try and push through his cramps so that we wouldn’t get into a bad situation by running out of water. Doesn’t sound like the best idea to me, I’d said. “What’s the worst that could happen? If it doesn’t work we’ll just be stopping again anyway.” Famous last words, Mr. Pearce.
So Dan pushes along a few hundred feet, the whole time muttering words of encouragement to himself and willing his legs to work. Then he moans and collapses on the side of the trail. His legs were completely seized up. Reuben sat with him for a few minutes while I hiked up to find some shade, and I found a good place a little ways up the trail. Reuben went back towards the peak to get some better cell service to call Search and Rescue, and I helped Dan to the shady spot.
He plopped down in the weeds and didn’t look good at all. “Kelsey, I’m sorry, but I just put on my blogger-hat and I think you need to take a picture of me dying.” Oh, Dan. So, I got his camera and snapped a couple shots. “OK, I think I got some good ones…” here Dan starts mumbling and looking really pained. I quickly ditch the camera and kneel down. “Dan, what did you say?” I ask.
His head lolls a bit and I could just make out, “I think something…”
“You think something…?”
“I… I think something…” Out. Dan’s head falls to his shoulder and he passes out.
I slap him lightly and call his name. His eyes pop open and stare into mine, but he’s not really looking at me. He’s not really seeing anything. I try to ask him questions- what’s wrong, what’s he feeling, but he can’t answer me. He’s just looking at me with dead eyes. I call out to Reuben some couple hundred feet away on the phone with Search and Rescue. “Reuben! Something is wrong with Dan! Really wrong!”
“Ok,” he responds, but continues his conversation at the peak.