Henry Lee, a junior studying political science, has a claim to fame that not many would brag about: the most expensive first date of all time.
The date was a 20-mile hike. A bold first date idea in the blazing summer heat of Temecula, California, but that’s what his date wanted to do. We’ll call her Lexi. Lee felt confident: he had done long hikes before.
The high that day was 95 degrees. Lee quickly learned that Lexi had not brought an ounce of water. No worries, he brought plenty to share. That’s when Lexi started drinking. Within six miles, Lexi drank half the water; by the 15-mile mark, it was gone — with Lee only having drank a little. That’s when the dehydration set in.
“It was like an unpleasant high,” Lee said. “Everything seemed ridiculous, but it was extremely uncomfortable. It made thinking hard, and it made walking hard.”
Lee’s body was shutting down — forcing him to stop. That is when he learned about Lexi’s fear of the dark. Lee comforted Lexi, fighting to remain conscious and promising everything would be fine. She called 911, and a helicopter was on its way.
Within an hour, a huge spotlight from the helicopter spotted the pair and pulled them to safety. Lee tried to refuse medical care, knowing the cost and fearing the wrath of his mother, but the rescue EMT threatened to put Lee under arrest, deeming him mentally unfit to care for himself. This forced Lee to accept the medical care he desperately needed; he didn’t need this on his criminal record.
“I’d never been so happy to drink water in my life,” Lee said. “Hope is the sound of a helicopter.”
They reached the hospital to discover that Lee’s kidney was shutting down. No amount of water was going to save it at this point. He was put on an IV and told to call his parents — something Lee had dreaded. His mother was furious, and his dad called him an idiot. This is about the reception Lee expected.
Though Lee and Lexi are both okay, Lee is the one stuck with the $1,500 bill. He is still paying it off to this day, $60 a month. Lexi did not get a second date.
“She got a helicopter ride out of it,” Lee said. “So I win best first date ride.”
Though you could call this a simple case of unpreparedness, situations resulting in a helicopter rescue happen quite often. In the Grand Teton mountains alone, The Jenny Lake Rangers rescue 75 people a year.
In one instance, Derek Wilcock, an 18-year-old from Missouri, fell 30 feet while rock climbing. Wilcock experienced leg injuries, requiring a helicopter rescue.
Evan Pack, a 33-year-old from Utah, fell 20 feet while hiking down Grand Teton. Like Wilcock, he required a helicopter rescue.
Stranded on an island in the Yellowstone River, two boys found themselves screaming for help. After failed rescue attempts by boat, a helicopter rescue was required.
This isn’t meant to discourage anyone from experiencing the beauty of the Tetons or Yellowstone. These experiences should simply be a warning: this could happen to you.
Pack plenty of water — that’s the first piece of advice Lee would give. Always carry a fully charged phone with you in case of emergency. Tell someone where you are going before you go: you don’t want a 127 Hour situation on our hands. Don’t try to take on more than you can handle. Perhaps a first date isn’t the right time to take a 20-mile hike.
“I learned a couple lessons,” Lee said. “Don’t ever get involved with someone who isn’t as prepared as you are. Don’t go through life with someone who isn’t going to bring their own water. You can’t carry enough for them and you.”