After sliding feet first down a steep slope in the Glen Canyon Recreation Area over the weekend, 15-year-old Trent Rockwood had a little trouble sitting down Monday morning to describe his 150-foot descent.
But once he eased into a chair in his Federal Heights home, the East High School freshman matter-of-factly described the ordeal, which began about noon on Saturday when he lost his footing while trying to get down to Lake Powell during a family hike."It seemed like a dream. I didn't know what I was doing. First, I started sliding on my rear end," he said. "Then I was doing somersaults and banged up my head. I came out on my feet and I started walking around."
He had dropped about 20 feet off a ledge in the Clearwater Canyon area, then slid along steep rocks and tumbled over a second ledge before stopping 150 feet later. There was no way for him to climb out, even if his hands had not been scraped raw in the ordeal.
Rockwood, who said he was never scared, said it took a few minutes before he had the presence of mind to see if he was hurt.
That's when he saw the scrapes and cuts on his hands and left arm and no doubt felt them elsewhere. He still had bandages on his left arm and right hand on Monday.
Although Rockwood didn't panic at his predicament, his mother, Kathie, readily admits she did.
"I screamed," she said. "I thought I was seeing the death right there. Then he got to his feet."
Seeing him standing and hearing him mutter to himself, "I'm so stupid, I'm so stupid," assured her that her son had survived.
After tossing him a backpack containing a few crackers and other food as well as some water, Kathie Rockwood told her son he might have to spend the night on the ledge while she went for help.
She said it was difficult leaving him behind while she and the rest of the parched group hiked in the hot midday sun back to the family car, then drove the 65 miles to Escalante.
"It was a horrible feeling, driving so many miles on that dirt road while leaving my kid there," she said, adding she was worried he might have suffered internal injuries.
Once she reached the tiny community, there was discussion among the authorities about the best way to reach the stranded hiker. There was concern that, if they went back on horses, Kathie Rockwood might not be able to spot her son.
So a tourist helicopter from Bryce Canyon was enlisted. It dropped off two rock climbers Saturday about 9 p.m. near the spot where Rockwood was trapped.
About 1 a.m. Sunday, one rock climber slowly lowered the other to the still-calm teenager and draped him with a "space" blanket to keep him warm.
The youth slept until daylight, then he was pulled off the ledge and taken, 24 hours after his fall, to a clinic at Bullfrog Basin Marina via a U.S. Park Service boat. He was treated for bruises, abrasions, scratches and cuts.
Rockwood said Monday that had the climber not reached him during the night, he might have given in to a little fear over his fate.
"If I had to stay the night with no blanket or anything, I might have been a little cold and a little scared," he said.
The incident has not altered his plans to go on a hike over the Memorial Day weekend - in southern Utah. After all, as his mother points out, he has been hiking since he was 5 years old.
"I'll be a little more careful," he said.