Five days have passed since we have left our car and entered the Grand Canyon. In spite of the extreme temperatures and severe dehydration we had managed to survive so far.
We woke up the next day. We had come a long way so far. Last night we were planning on going to the Tinaja I had found earlier that day. However, upon waking up, I realized that Donnie was in a very bad state. He could barley move anymore. I went on my own to get him water. I already knew the way, so I managed to return quicker. I filled the bottle, drank what couldn’t be collected and used a bandana to soak the remaining drops. I returned to Donnie and gave him the water bottle. Needles to say, I was spent. I had used up all of my energy in order to keep Donnie alive. I had barely eaten anything in the past days. I was finished, Donnie too. We lay down all day in a shady spot. Donnie started falling in and out of consciousness. He was passing out, sleeping and then coming back. I was looking at him helplessly. There was nothing I could do anymore.
As I lay there, I couldn’t help but wonder what had happened to Keith. He was supposed to be back by now, with some water and hopefully, some good news. I was worried for him. After a while I thought I heard some peculiar noises, like voices getting closer. I thought I had finally started losing my mind, But, boy, was I wrong?! As I looked around I could see Keith coming back towards us. It also seemed like he brought help. I had no idea where he had managed to find these guys, but I was very excited and glad to see him. They started attending Donnie and gave us both food and water. They helped us carry Donnie back to our car on a longer, easier route. This was our best shot at getting him to a hospital. With a little help from our friends, we managed to get out of the canyon and call for a helicopter to come after us. Luckily, we called in time. When we got to the hospital we had to go through a series of tests. The doctors wanted to keep us under observation for a day. This proved to be a great opportunity to catch up on Keith’s adventure.
The last time I saw him, we had to split up on our third day into the canyon. Keith was going to go get water from the river. While I was collecting the hedgehog cactus, a few miles further away, Keith was making impressive progress. He was bent on reaching the river as fast as possible and returning to us. Adrenaline was pumping through his body as he kept pushing on through the tormenting temperatures. Keith switched to survival mode.
It wasn’t long before the trip started wearing him out. He started making very little progress. Luckily, he was going in the right direction. However, he was still off route. After the first day of hiking alone, he stopped for the night and built a fire to keep him warm. He was exhausted, tired, hungry, and very thirsty. In the still of the night, he could hear the river rumbling in the distance.
Keith woke up early the next day, just as the sun was rising. He felt very weak. He noticed how his health degraded over the past couple of days. However, it had never been so bad. Dehydration, sunburns, and starvation have taken their toll. He continued to push on for the river.
It’s been 3 days since our group had left the car. It seemed like a lifetime had passed. He proceeded towards the river and soon enough it seemed the ordeal was going to be over. He could see the river down in the valley. Just as he was approaching a rocky ledge, he realized that he had made a terrible mistake. He had been going in the right direction, but not on the right route. Instead of reaching the river banks, he was on top of a steep rock, about 200 feet above it.
The trip down would have been very dangerous even for experienced rock climbers in good condition. However, Keith wasn’t a professional, and he certainly wasn’t in any condition to attempt such a feat. He managed to find a shady spot and decided to take a breather. Going around wasn’t an option. He could hint where the right path was. However, he would waste too much time.
He felt that he had failed us all.
He had to risk it.
There was no other way.
He took off his pack and threw it off the cliff.
He decided to attempt the treacherous descent. He feared that remaining there for the night would make him too weak to get down to the river in the morning. Keith proceeded with caution as the sun was getting ready to set. He managed to get down just as it got completely dark.
Keith couldn’t find his bag and continued towards where he thought the rumbling sound was coming from. However, the canyon walls echoed into nothingness. He got out his survival lighter and started looking for the water. It seemed so close, yet out of reach. It was driving him crazy.
Close to giving up, he accidentally stepped in a large puddle of water. That’s was a very big surprise. Instead of having his foot step on the ground, it sank ankle deep in the sandy bottom, tumbling forward. Adrenaline rushed through his body, as Keith feared falling accidentally into the river. After looking around and realizing it was only a temporary pond, the situation was back under control. Oddly enough, there didn’t seem to be any other water source around. He decided to settle for the pond. It will have to suffice for now. It should be enough for the night.
He woke up very enthusiastic the next morning, but overslept a little. His body couldn’t wait to get some more water. It was the 6th day since Keith and the others left the car and he had finally reached the river. He started gathering water in what bottles he had left. Keith wanted to be on his way back as soon as possible. My friend was just gathering his stuff when he heard some voices coming from the river. He turned around only to find 4 people waving at him as they were coming down the river, and immediately started waving back, asking for help.
After telling them about what happened, Keith asked if he could use their radio. Unfortunately, they didn’t have one, or any other means of communication. However, they offered to help out and joined in on his return trip. They were also kind enough to share their food with this ravaged survivalist. The group started coming back for us. They walked for a whole day and then decided to camp. Time was of the essence, so they pushed as hard as they could, walking until it was utter darkness. The next day, they got up as early as possible and continued the trip. It took them almost half a day, but they finally reached us.
They found us both lying on our backs, passed out. At first, I couldn’t let myself believe it was all real. I thought it was a hallucination. However, it didn’t take too long before a huge feeling of relief, gratitude, and joy flushed through my body. I was still very dehydrated and weak, but I managed to get it together and pull through. Everyone gathered around Donnie and he started showing signs of improvement. We got to the car, and then arrived at the hospital safe and alive. We all felt lucky to be there.
Such an experience can have a profound emotional impact on a person. Every near death experience I went through has helped me appreciate life a little more. It’s too bad people often have to go through hardship before they learn to do so. I hope you enjoyed my story and trust you’ll be able to get some valuable knowledge out of it. Of course, nothing compares to your own adventures. However, reading about what other people had gone through in order to survive in extreme conditions, could greatly improve your insight and decision-making. The more you know, the better prepared you’ll be, to survive in any critical situation.
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