How two Dallas hikers were rescued thanks to a deceased individual

This is an incident that happened in May 2006!

Brandon Day, 28, and Gina Allen, 24, a couple from Dallas, visited Palm Springs, California in May 2006 to attend a convention. During their trip, they decided to take the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to the top of Mount San Jacinto for a quick walk and drinks.

They anticipated a short stay and therefore did not bring any food or water, wore light clothing and tennis shoes. However, they made a crucial mistake of leaving their cell phones behind in their hotel room.

“I still felt we were relatively close,” Day said, recalling that he thought the trail would “be around this next boulder.”

They really got lost and went further and further away from the trail. As night fell, they sought refuge in a tiny cave among the rocks, spending a chilly, sleepless night without food.

Awakened by shivering

They spent the next night shivering and waking up frequently due to the cold.

They persevered, repeating the phrase “the mantra from night one: ’We’re going to get out of here. We’re not going to die. It’s not our time.”’

Allen’s condition worsened on the third day as she grew weaker.

“The very worst thoughts went through our mind, that we might be stuck here. I prayed a lot,” she said.

They stumbled upon a campsite on the next day located in a cul-de-sac canyon, where they found a foam sleeping mat, tennis shoes, a backpack, a disposable razor, a spoon, and a poncho hung on branches for shade.

Day and Allen were overjoyed upon finding a campsite, hoping for assistance to find their way out. However, their excitement was dampened by the realization that the gear was wet, the radio and flashlight were corroded, and the place was deserted.

“I could just feel myself struck down,” Allen said.

Eerie journal discovery

They discovered the camper was Donovan, 60, a retired social worker from Virginia, through his identification. Donovan was an experienced hiker who had disappeared on May 2, 2005, in icy weather while following the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail from Southern California to the Canadian border.

Day said that the journal, written on sketch paper and maps, showed that Donovan had lost hope of being rescued.

“His last journal entry was one year ago to the day that we found it, which was very eerie,” Day said. “Nobody knew where he was, nobody knew to come looking for him, so he was preparing for the end. We were looking at the words of a man who was passing.”

From Donovan’s backpack, they found salvation, including a warm sweater for Allen, dry socks for Day, and matches. They lit a small signal fire but despite spotting a helicopter in the distance, the crew did not see them.

Start fire to get attention

Day lit another match as they arrived at a large culvert filled with dry vines and foliage.

“The whole acre or two caught fire, created a really big smoke signal” that finally alerted a helicopter crew, he said.

They sustained only blisters and bruises and were checked at a hospital.

“We feel great. We’re thankful. We feel like we’ve been given a second chance,” Day said on the phone from his hotel room in Palm Desert.

Officials found the body of the ill-fated man Donovan and later buried him in the military cemetery as per his last wish recorded in the journal.

Day wishes to convey to Donovan’s family that their loss has brought a new beginning to them.  “With tragedy comes rebirth,” he said. “We have a real special thanks for that person.”

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