VANCOUVER - Jordan Nicurity had been dragging his body across sharp sandstone on an empty belly for three days, shock and adrenaline the only salve for his crushed pelvis, when a raw moment of do or die arrived.
"My arms kind of ran out of juice," said the 26-year-old Regina man, recalling his failed attempt to hoist himself up three metres of tree roots on a small B.C. island bluff.
"I knew if I fell from there I'd be in big trouble, and I knew if I couldn't get above, 'That's it, no one's coming to find you down there."'
Dozing off for an hour-and-a-half was the reviving antidote, he said, giving him the necessary boost of strength to pull himself up top.
"I thought about my family and my friends and how upset I'd be if something happened to them," he said. "I didn't really want to inflict that upon anyone. And I'd grown quite fond of breathing in and out."
Hours after that terror of near-certain death passed through him, he was discovered by a group of hikers and rescued.
Nicurity, whose harrowing survival story has only just come to light, was rushed to medical care and then flown to a Vancouver hospital. He was dehydrated, suffering kidney failure and soft-tissue injuries and had a complex hip fracture.
The traumatic incident started with a beautiful late October morning and curiosity peeked by a goat path on Hornby Island, between the B.C. mainland and Vancouver Island.
Nicurity, who was visiting some friends, went out for a two hour hike to take some photos. Scrambling up the path, he took hold of some rock, but instead found it crumbling in his hands. He lost balance, spun and plunged six metres onto a heap of rocks on the beach below.
"I knew things weren't very good, but wiggled my toes and heard some ugly crunching noises coming from my hips," he described Tuesday from his wheelchair in Vancouver General Hospital.
He realized the fall had put him out of eyesight.
"No one can hear you, the cliff is quite a ways up, the wind goes all the time, the waves crash and all the rest. I knew I'd have to do some movement before I got found."
With no use of his legs, he spent the rest of the day crawling to his backpack about 100 metres away, out of the reach of high tide. He had no food and had already downed all but one gulp of tea. But he did have a heavy wool sweater, which he credits in large part for keeping him alive.
"There's no one around there at that time of the year," he said. "I did yell for help, it feels great - you think you're doing something - but pretty sure no one is going to hear."
The following day, his plan was to build a fire on the beach to attract attention.
"Of course it starts pouring the next day," he said.
Another day of dragging eventually found him at a teepee-like shelter someone had built, where he took refuge for the night. But rest didn't come easy as he vomited up water he'd lapped from puddles, finding out too late the rain hadn't diluted the salt.
After overcoming the daunting climb up the tree roots three days into the ordeal, he licked water droplets off foliage as he crawled through a meadow.
"A couple bugs that managed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time got eaten pretty quick," he said.
Then he discovered a giant clam shell that had been left on a picnic table - flush with fresh rainwater.
"It was the greatest thing ever when I found that water," he said. "Great to drink something I didn't puke up later."
Inching his way towards a parking lot, though passing out for minutes at a time every several metres, Nicurity spotted his first real hope. But wind was his nemesis, and the two hikers walking along a path didn't respond to his desperate shouts.
As the sky turned dark and the threat of rough weather loomed, he held onto hope that eventually, those people would have to return. He passed out again. As he roused, the man spotted a group of about 10.
"I was frantic by that point and yelling as loud as I could and the last two stop and perk up their ears."
"As soon as they saw me I was so relieved, I knew I was saved."
He doesn't believe he'd have lived another day, or even a few more hours.
One month later, a day before Nicurity flies back home for at least six more months of rehabilitation, he is in good spirits as he tells his story - though his dad is still visibly shaken.
"Without a doubt I'll have the outdoors as soon as I can get up and get motoring again. I'm sure I'll be back there, for sure," he says.
His father smiles but puts his hand on his son's shoulder.
"Anybody who's ever been in Regina, the gopher holes are about the highest," he says. "So that's where he's going to be hanging around for a while."