Apparently I missed out on a free helicopter ride today. On Friday I got a text from Chris inviting me to go canyoneering in No Man’s Canyon in the Robber’s Roost area. He was going with some people that he knew, but whom I’d never met, and the weather was supposed to be cold and windy, so I told him I wasn’t feeling up to it this weekend. He woke me up with another text on Saturday morning a little before 8:00AM, saying “We are headed into the canyon now, so if you never hear from me that’s where I am. πŸ™‚” I laughed it off and told him to have fun and good luck. I hadn’t heard from him by 8:00PM that evening, but I wasn’t worried because he usually doesn’t check in with me. I sent him another text asking “Are you having fun yet?
It wasn’t until late Sunday afternoon that Chris’ girlfriend, Sylvia, was asking Traci if we’d heard from him. I still hadn’t heard from him, but I knew the name of one of the guys he was canyoneering with, and I looked him up on Facebook to see if he’d been active in the last day. His wall wasn’t visible, but his wife’s was, and I was able to glean from there that the group was a day overdue. Oh shit.
After failed attempts to reach the Wayne County sheriff’s office, we eventually found out from the Hunts that Sevier County does the dispatching for Wayne County, so Traci called the Sevier County sheriff’s office and found out what was going on. They’d been reported overdue Sunday morning, and search & rescue was already out looking for them. It was a long fucking night. S&R had stopped looking due to darkness and bad weather, but would resume at first light. In addition, the Utah DPS helicopter would be out looking beginning at about 9:00AM. I only slept a few hours. I was up until 2:00AM just trying to figure out what I should do. I’d loaded my 4-wheeler into the truck and fueled them both up, and I had gear ready just in case I could be of any help. I wanted so badly to just drive down in the middle of the night to try to help, but I wasn’t sure whether that would be a wise idea. Sylvia drove down here from Utah County just to be a little closer to the situation, and so that she wouldn’t be worrying alone.
When morning finally came, I had decided that going down there would be useless if the helicopter would actually be helping with the search. We got word that the helicopter was indeed out by 9:00AM, and before 9:30 we heard that they’d been found. There was no information on their condition or even whether they were alive, but slowly more information came in and we learned that everybody was ok, and that the party had gotten ledged out somewhere and couldn’t move up or down from their location. I still haven’t gotten the story from Chris, but it sounds like they were prepared well enough to survive two nights in sub-freezing temperatures. The helicopter pulled them all out, and before noon they were back at their vehicle and driving home. In all seriousness, I don’t for a second think that ordeal would be worth a helicopter ride. I’m glad I wasn’t there to experience two nights in the cold, but I’m glad they made it out alive and unharmed.
Update (7:51PM):
The Deseret News has an article about their experience. I love this quote: “He said they had ‘average’ outdoor experience, but were not wearing the proper attire for the weather conditions.” Chris is well-known for wearing shorts year-round, so maybe that was directed at him. πŸ˜€ However, they survived two nights in below-freezing temperatures, so they couldn’t have been that ill-prepared.

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