It was about 8 pm when the first Search and Rescue worker reached us. We had first called for help around 4:00. The sun was heading quickly toward the mountains in the west, and the temperature was starting to cool.
I watched him approach us from a distance and when I finally could make out his face, I could hardly believe it. “David Lynton?” I asked. He told me yes, obviously confused. “Dan Pearce, I used to live across the street from you.” He hadn’t seen me since I was a teenager and he quickly made the connection.
The man used to be one of my Boy Scout leaders some twenty years ago. He was a tenth degree black belt or something like that. Something about him being there put me at great ease. I stood up and attempted to walk toward him. Kelsey shrieked that I shouldn’t be walking. I felt a need to prove that with a little help I could get down the mountain on my own.
My legs had other plans as they quickly lost their stability and I was forced to sit down once again. David handed me a large sports drink and I quickly downed it. Kelsey and Reuben both started gulping down sports drinks of their own.
And then I blacked out again. I don’t really remember what happened next, but I remember suddenly finding myself surrounded by several Search and Rescue members. I opened my eyes and was on my back in the middle of the trail. How I got there, or when the others arrived is a complete blur to me, though according to Kelsey I was coherent and cooperative the whole time.
“We’re going to insert an IV,” one of them said. I remember my arm being tugged and wiped with alcohol. I remember the sharp stabbing pain of the needle. I remember the rescue workers discussing how fast to let the fluid drip.
And then, I just remember freezing. My legs began shaking, they were so cold. Eventually the rest of my body joined in. I remember them asking everybody for their jackets.
The next thing I remember is the head medical responder’s face directly above mine yelling something at me. I remember seeing him but not being able to talk, focus, or respond. I remember panicking and starting to cry while I felt paralyzed. I remember Kelsey’s hand on my head and how much it calmed me. I remember her telling me I’d be all right. I remember the Search and Rescue volunteer, a teacher at my Junior High, wiping the tears from my face. I remember him telling me he had reported to the people below that I was having seizure-like activity.
I remember more calls for blankets. More faces. I remember my body shaking harder than before and not being able to control it.
I remember that same head medical responder telling me they were calling for a helicopter. I remember telling him NO. I can walk down. I have to walk down. I don’t have insurance. I’m a single dad. I just need more fluid. I’ll be okay.
I remember him telling me I didn’t really have a choice and that I needed to get off the mountain. I remember being unable to argue any longer.
I remember they decided to put a second IV into my other arm. I don’t remember much except the poke, more shaking, and being covered by more layers.
I remember that incredible feeling of finally feeling warm. I remember my legs suddenly stopped hurting. I remember my mind cleared. I sat up and told everybody I was fine. I could walk down the mountain. The head medical responder told me I could try, but the helicopter was still coming. I remember just then my thigh cramped up beneath me while I sat, and I knew I didn’t have a choice. I think I told them I would do whatever they suggested.
After 20 or 30 minutes, the first helicopter appeared above us. It disappeared over the hill again and I overheard someone saying that there was no safe place for it to land so it had left.
They’d be sending up a new helicopter from Ogden with a cable system that would pull us off the mountaintop. It was all so blurry for me. I didn’t know where Kelsey or Reuben were. I closed my eyes. As hard as I tried to keep them in, tears kept emerging and rolling down my temples. I was wrapped in blankets and coats. I kept looking at the bags of liquid dripping into my body.