UFC champ Evan Tanner's final test.
Credit: Courtesy Evan Tanner
All through the night Gayoso tried to reach Tanner. When morning came he remembered his friend's first message about search and rescue.

He paced his house in Oceanside, wondering what to do. Had Tanner's phone simply lost power? Or was it something worse? The whole thing seemed absurd. How does one even call "search and rescue"? He went online to look for a phone number.

A short while later, as sheriff's deputy Justin Hettich made a rare traffic stop outside Palo Verde, he received a call. A man with an Uruguayan accent wanted to read him a couple of text messages. Something about his friend. An ultimate fighter. Evan Tanner.

Hettich, other deputies, a search-and-rescue contractor, and a marine helicopter team searched the lonely countryside for Tanner's campsite. Even knowing his general position, they took a couple of days to find the tarp and motorcycle. Soon after they found his body.

He had made it almost four miles on the walk back to camp. He had sat down and taken pictures of himself, about 20 in all, right up to the moment of unconsciousness.

Then he had laid his head against a rock as if it were a pillow; not because he was sleepy but likely because in his dizziness the rock provided orientation. A rock to prop him up, if only for a little while.

Nature, in the end, forced him to submit.