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EPHRAIM––Ephraim resident Taylor Averett has learned his lesson about hiking alone in the mountains. Sanpete County Search and Rescue located the lost Averett Tuesday, October 4 after he’d become disoriented in the South Tent mountains and was forced to survive overnight. Averett, an employee at Titan Wireless, decided to hike up South Tent mountain alone after none of his friends were available to go along with him. Inclement weather disoriented Averett as he descended the mountain, leading him in the opposite direction and forcing him to create shelter for the night. Search and Rescue was called at 5:30 a.m. the following morning and found Averett and his dog, whom Averett had brought with him, by about 2:00 p.m. thanks to a break in foggy weather conditions. Averett has a goal to hike the tallest mountain in every mountain range in Utah. South Tent is the tallest in the Wasatch Plateau. “I wanted to knock another mountain off my list,” Averett said, figuring the mountain to be close and a straightforward hike. He’s a relatively experienced outdoorsman with experience hiking alone. The climb up was fairly innocuous, Averett said. “It was sunny, no big deal. Gorgeous, too.“ The pleasant hike up was eventually undercut by the worsening weather. “Clouds gathered everywhere… I couldn’t see ten feet in front of me.” It stayed that way the entire night. Averett began heading down the mountain around 9:30 p.m., believing he was heading northeast towards a ridge connecting North Tent and South Tent, one that would lead him back to his car. Instead he began going straight north into Black Canyon. He continued for roughly an hour and a half. Fumbling through the fog, he reached thick patches of pine trees, different from the path he’d taken before. Averett initially dismissed this as being unobservant earlier but eventually realized something was wrong. The sun set for hours, Averett decided he’d need a new plan: make a shelter and tough it out. “I had been panicking up to that point,” he said, “Now that I had a plan in mind, I felt much more calm.” Averett has never needed to create a shelter to survive before, but once he realized it was necessary he knew exactly what to do. Drawing from his time watching the popular show Man Versus Wild, he used his knife to cut down pine branches and created a sort of blanket out of them, one big enough for his entire body and his schnauzer, Rocky, who he stuffed in his jacket. “Honestly I was more worried about my dog getting hypothermia than about myself.” The branch blanket kept him warm, though “warm is a relative term,” Averett noted. After leaving his shelter to do jumping jacks and attempt to warm his body he realized just how effective his shelter was. He quickly cut down more branches and reinforced it, Even after it rained later that night, Averett emerged completely dry. But he didn’t sleep. Come early morning, Averett left his shelter and began looking for the path again. Morning hadn’t brought a break in the fog, however, and Averett continued to stumble until he realized he was likely in the completely wrong location. “That’s when I knew I was really lost. I wasn’t in the right place, and I got really, really scared then.” It was time for a pity party, Averett said. Things seemed bleak. “I didn’t know what to do anymore,” he said. “I started praying really hard and asking God to just part the clouds, all I needed was to see the mountains.” That was probably true. At any point had the fog lifted, Averett would have been able to assess his direction, leading him towards his car and home. Averett created another shelter, a lean-to out of a fallen log and more pine branches, where he stayed for several more hours until it became evident that he’d need to attempt a slef rescue. “I thought, ‘I’ve got to do something if I’m going to get out of here,’” he said. He He trudged up the mountain in hopes of acquiring cell phone service to phone 911. The call never connected, but his decision to hike up still paid off. A brief break in the murky weather enabled Cary Nelson of Search and Rescue to locate Averett, bringing him back home safely on his ATV. Search and Rescue had been fumbling, too. Visibility was severely reduced on both ends, and weather rendered the roads slick and muddy. Had it not been for the lucky break and the team’s diligence, Averett might not have made it off South Tent. In some ways, things could have been worse, Averett said. He was thankful for his wind and water proof jacket, as well as his knife, which he’s sure to bring with him after seeing the movie 127 Hours. However, jeans make for bad insulation, he says, and a compass would have solved the whole ordeal. “Two heads are better than one,” Averett says. He’s going to take a friend with him next time, but if there’s ever a time when he can’t resist the urge to go hiking alone, better gear is in order. “Special thanks Sanpete County Sheriff department and Search and Rescue,” Averett says. “Especially Cary Nelson. He was looking for me the entire morning. [God] may not part the clouds right when your screaming at the sky for Him to do so, but He'll part them right when your on the right ridge, looking in the right direction.”


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