I go after him. “Dan, let’s go sit back down and get you some water, OK?” He looks at me with a weird expression and his empty eyes, and I notice that he is holding a large branch behind his back. “Dan… what are you doing with that?” I’m a little nervous that he’s going to hit me. He seems startled that I noticed, and says “Nothing.” and throws it to the ground. “Come on, Dan. Let’s go sit down.”
“There is everything we need to survive right here in nature, Kelsey. Look around.” At this point Reuben is calling to me that the Search and Rescue people want some of Dan’s vitals. I check his pulse, measure his breathing, feel his forehead. I call back to Reuben the stats, and his vitals seem mostly alright.
“Don’t talk about people like they’re not even here!” He yells at me. I apologize and tell him that I’m just trying to make sure he’s safe. I ask him again to come back to the trail with me. “They lied, ” he says, “they aren’t coming.” He is looking around frantically.
“Who?” He just points to the ridge he mentioned earlier. “Dan, please. Come sit down with me.”
“I’m not four!” He yells and stumbles into a tree. I do my best to catch him and hold him up. He’s a lot bigger than me. He keeps mumbling about how they lied, and trying to wander on legs that don’t work.
“Please, Dan. Please come back with me?”
He puts his hands on my shoulders and studies my face. “You have beautiful eyes.” Thanks. He lets me lead him back to the trail.
I get him settled and get him to drink some more. He starts to cry again, but I calm him down. I tell Reuben that I need to call my mom and let her know what’s going on. (I feel I should mention here that Reuben had been in contact with Dan’s family, so they knew roughly what was happening.) I walk away about twenty feet, but stay close. I let my mom know the gist of what’s happening, and ask about my son to make sure he’s having a good day with her. I promise to call her later. I walk back towards the boys and Dan’s eyes lock on mine again. The look in his eyes while he was out of it was extremely unsettling. He points at me, “You. I knew you would come.”
“Dan, I’ve been here the whole time.” He just keeps pointing. I finally grab his finger and say, “Why are you pointing at me?” He gets a surprised look on his face and gasps. He starts giggling.
Reuben asks, “What was that?”
Dan says, “It was magic, ” and keeps laughing.
Dan keeps talking about nature, and Noah. The people who are coming. He insists that we take a picture of the three of us, and keeps telling Reuben and I to go. He falls asleep, and Reuben and I decide that as long as he keeps breathing, it’s fine if he sleeps. He sleeps for a little while, and when he wakes up, he’s himself again. We all decide to get some rest. Reuben gives me a poncho to help keep the bugs off me, which I appreciate because I’m already freaking out enough. Dan keeps trying to apologize, but there is really no need. Reuben nods off, and we just kill some more time. Finally, Dan suggests that we take a picture of the sleeping Reuben and as I go for the camera, Reuben’s phone rings.
They’re close to our coordinates. Reuben hikes out to bring back the first of our many rescuers. I have never felt more relieved in my life. We made it to the top of that mountain at 2 PM. It’s now 7:30 PM. More rescuers come, and they take care of Dan. He gets an IV in each arm for fluids, some oxygen, the works. Reuben and I try to comfort Dan while he’s being cared for.
After Dan’s looking and feeling much better, the call is made that he’ll be leaving the mountain on a helicopter. His legs still won’t work. After some moving and coordinating, Dan was hoisted away at around 9 PM. Reuben and I began our descent of the steep devil in the dark. Thanks to a rescue horse named Leroy, who I got to ride most of the way down, we all made it through the night and back in one piece. After being on that mountain from 10 AM until 11 PM, I can’t even express how wonderful it was to be back in the parking lot and to know that Dan was going to be OK. That Dan Pearce certainly knows how to have an adventure.
PS. would love your comments. What is it like reading my story and then reading hers? There are obviously a few differences in how we experienced things and even some of the events. What would you have done if you were in Kelsey’s position?