DECKER

The Columbus Dispatch - - Front Page - Tdecker@dis­patch.com @Theodor­e_Decker

to let the ranch know the rest of her party would be late.

The canyon fell into shadow. It grew dark. Up the South Kaibab Trail, prob­a­bly a few miles, Phyl­lis could see the dis­tant head­lamps of her hus­band, brother and sis­ter-in-law. She fret­ted. Should she go back up? Seek help?

At 8 p.m., she came across Dick­son. Craig, an avid back­packer, was camp­ing at the nearby Bright An­gel Camp­ground with friends. At that mo­ment he was alone, stargaz­ing.

He also had seen the head­lamps. When Phyl­lis told him her predica­ment, he agreed to help. He asked her only to find his friends and let them know where he’d gone.

Up on the trail, John Hysong was wor­ried. They were low on water and en­ergy. It would be too dan­ger­ous to go much longer. They would have to stop and wait for day­light.

Then Craig bounded up the trail.

“He was sweat­ing bul­lets when he got there, but he was in great shape, ob­vi­ously,” John said. Craig said he’d come to help. He told Milo to lean on him.

“I will be­come your left leg,” he said.

For the next sev­eral hours, Craig went up and down the trail like a Hi­malayan Sherpa. Af­ter help­ing Milo get ahead, he re­turned and lifted Carolyn onto his back.

“He put her on his back, and he car­ried her all the way to the Colorado River,” John said.

Not quite that far, Craig said. But close.

It was af­ter mid­night when

they made it to the ranch and were re­united with Phyl­lis.

Back at his own camp, Craig re­counted the night to his friends.

“They took turns telling me I was a hero, and non­sense like that,” he said. He an­swered them with a run-on sen­tence: “Thank you. I need to lay down, I’m tired.”

He would later check his Fit­bit.

“It said I had done 878 floors that day,” he said.

Craig and his friends hiked out the next morn­ing. John did too, but Phyl­lis, Milo and Carolyn stayed an ex­tra night to rest up. Milo found the hike up, thank­fully, to be eas­ier on his knee.

Re­count­ing all this, John gets emo­tional. Out on that trail in the dark, he said, “I know I was in per­sonal prayer. It was like, ‘Was this an an­gel?’”

In a let­ter to Craig’s em­ploy­ers at Vet­er­ans Af­fairs, Milo and Carolyn said the same:

“Craig was on his way hik­ing back up to the rim early the next morn­ing be­fore we even hob­bled out of our cabin, and we won­dered if our episode the night be­fore was just a dream. Did such a man as Craig Dick­son re­ally ex­ist, or was he truly an an­gel in dis­guise?”

But they car­ried out of the canyon the proof that they had not been dream­ing. Feel­ing they owed the stranger a debt that they hope to some­how re­pay, they asked for his con­tact in­for­ma­tion and took a pho­to­graph of Craig’s Ohio driver’s li­cense.

It gave their an­gel a name.

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