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Copter takes hikers to safety in Escalante

Rescuers plucked three men from a steep ledge inside the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument on Tuesday.

A helicopter managed to descend to the "shelf" on which the men were stuck and ferry them to safety.

"They aren't injured, they're in good condition, and they're OK," Garfield County sheriff's spokeswoman Becki Bronson said Tuesday.

Brad Crawford, 29, of Severna, Mich.; Mike Macey, 32, of Rochester, Mich.; and Fred Harsh, 32, of Lehi, were hiking on the Death Hollow Canyon Trail when they failed to check in at the end of the five-day hike in some of Utah's most desolate and dangerous country. Search and rescue teams found them Monday afternoon — stuck on a steep ledge on a mountainside, 310 feet from the top.

Bronson said the men told searchers they tried to climb the mountain to bypass a series of icy cold water pools they would have been forced to swim through at the bottom of the canyon.

"They didn't realize how high it was to the top," she said. "So they got to this ledge and didn't have the equipment to go over the top or go back down."

Bronson said the men were well-prepared, having a tent, and fire equipment to spend the night in the elements. The three are considered experienced hikers but may have underestimated the area in which they were hiking. They still had about 14 miles to go on the hiking trail before they reached the end, deputies said.

"A lot of people do not realize how rugged the country is until they get to it and they see it," Bronson said. "This country in particular is some of the most rugged in America. It's steep, jagged rocks, remote country. This is for the very experienced hiker. It's not as if you're just walking along a trail."