Surviving 12 hours in quicksand

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 24, 2013

Getting stuck in the sand on the edge of a river during a hike doesn’t sound like a life-threatening situation, but Rob Tesar would disagree.

The sun started going behind the canyon wall around three o’clock, and the temperature dropped substantially. I would be in the shadows until dark. The woman connected a trash bag filled with my coats to the rope and moved it out to me. The runners came back around 3:40 and we talked about using the Personal Locator Beacon. It was a weird conversation because the situation didn’t seem super serious. I was stuck in mud and it was cold, but there was no blood. There was no traumatic injury. At four o’clock we hit the beacon because we didn’t know when someone might come. We thought that hypothermia would make this a life or death situation.

I was worried about passing out in the water, so I asked if we could create a system to hold me up. We built a raft using Thermarests and driftwood. and I lay on my belly. Every 15 minutes or so, one of the people with me would say, “Hey Robbie, How did this happen? How old are you? Where are you from?” In between that, I was meditating, Be as calm as possible. Just breathe. When I got cold, they got the MSR stove going and gave me hot water and a meal-sausage, couscous, and cheese.