Jonathan Hardman loved to take hikes with his dog, a beautiful German Shepherd named Rambo. So, when they were invited to hike Mount Bierstadt with another group, they could not refuse.

They got together with friends Mary Prescott, Will Chandler, and Matt Dayer, excited to make the over 14,000-foot climb. Mount Bierstadt is a popular hiking destination in Colorado, boasting challenging yet moderate climbs and trails.

The weather couldn’t have been any better for a hike. They set out early in the June morning when the air was crisp and cool. Jonathan didn’t even feel he needed a long sleeve shirt until they reached the summit around 10:30 in the morning. The trek up was just what the friends needed to get away from life for awhile.

From left: Matt Dayer, Mary Prescott, Will Chandler, and Jonathan Hardman with Rambo

Everyone took a moment to rest and gather themselves together. They took pictures to prove the feat for thirty minutes or so, then figured it was about time to head back. They began the descent just as they had made it up.

Not long after they started down the mountain, the group noticed something about the sky that they hadn’t before. It wasn’t looking as lovely as it had earlier in the day, but they were already working their way back to civilization so it was best to just keep up the good work.

Seemingly out of nowhere, hail poured from the sky’s great blanket of clouds. It was as if a hammer had been taken to the jar containing a boy’s marble collection, allowing the little balls to streak furiously down to earth all at once. The hikers frantically searched for cover but they were unfamiliar with the territory and didn’t know of anywhere to go.

Jonathan took Rambo close to his side, coaxing him along the narrows paths and down away from the fierce grasp of the storm.

The four friends arrived at a small dip that required those traversing it to jump down several feet. Jonathan leaped down with ease and turned to coach Rambo to make the jump as well.

Then everything was black.

When he awoke, Jonathan couldn’t move anything. His arms, legs, and hands refused to obey his brain’s commands. His brain literally felt fried. He could not think straight for what felt like an eternity.

He finally did come to his senses which flooded him with a whole new catalog of emotions. Blood flowed from his head and face, his body ached all over, and his friends were lying on the ground; they screamed bloody murder as they bore cuts similar to his own. Then Jonathan’s eyes fell back to the spot he last saw his dog.

There was the lifeless body of his best friend, sprawled on the rocks at head height.

The rest of the group saw what had happened and rushed to assist them. As some of them helped the shocked hikers to their feet, one man tried to carry Rambo on his shoulders. Jonathan was determined not to leave him behind, but the seventy-pound dog proved to be too much to carry down the treacherous terrain.

They had to leave Rambo behind.

The group had another problem on their hands: the storm prevented a rescue helicopter from getting to them. An ambulance drove as far as it could up the base of Mount Bierstadt but had to stop well short of the group.

They slowly proceeded once more; this time, slowed heavily by the injuries they sustained. It was just miraculous enough that they could move at all, let alone get down a mountain.

When the group finally made it to the ambulance and were rushed to the hospital, their injuries were immediately treated, but several amazing facts were discovered in the process.

Mary was the recipient of several bruises and a very large laceration on her forehead that required over 40 stitches. Chandler also had several cuts and abrasions but Jonathan took a direct hit.

The top of his head presented a gash where the lightning bolt struck him. The craziest part is not THAT he survived but instead HOW he survived. Doctors believe that because Rambo was next to him, the charge was shared with the canine which drastically reduced the amount of electricity in his own body.

So Rambo lost his life so his master could live on. Jonathan is understandably broken-hearted but grateful to be alive.

Thank God for dogs!

Article via: USATODAY.COM