Rappellers descend 500-foot cliff, retrieve hunting dog

  • Contributed by Skyla Grace

    This is the cliff where Jane Grace, a hunting dog, fell 500 feet into off the Nualolo Trail in Koke‘e State Park.

  • Contributed by Skyla Grace

    Caleb Morrison and Mark Esposito celebrate while ascending with Jane Grace, a beloved hunting dog of the Grace ‘ohana.

LIHU‘E — After two long days away from his family, Jane Porter Grace, a hunting dog, was rescued 500 feet below a cliff near Nualolo Trail in Koke‘e State Park last week by two highly trained Kaua‘i men known for rappelling off of waterfalls as a recreational activity.

“We were at the 1-mile marker and Jane started chasing a pig,” dog owners Skyla and Shawn Grace said. “She chased it all the way down to Napali Coast. When we reached her, she was still moving back and forth on our GPS tracker. But we realized she went over the cliff. Shawn tried to reach her but was unable to go all the way down. She fell straight down a black wall over 500 feet.

“He got about 60 yards from where she was located on the GPS. When he called her, she answered. We got home and started making phone calls. Mark called us back and said he could help,” said Skyla Grace.

After calling all of their family and friends, Caleb Morrison and Mark Esposito were mentioned to the couple about their rappelling skills, and they quickly contacted the gentlemen.

“Felt honored to help such an amazing family get back one of their family members,” Mark Esposito said. “Was really motivated by how their whole family came out to go search for their dog. Glad to put out rappelling skills to good use and help such a wonderful family in our community.”

Caleb Morrison, a tree climber and a member of a Kaua‘i search-and-rescue team, joined his friend Esposito by bringing his drone and his climbing skills.

“I feel like a million bucks,” Morrison said. “I was exhausted the next day, woke up having to climb. I was physically drained, but my emotions were super positive and happy it didn’t matter.”

Morrison said he reflected on how he rappelled for fun and how it felt great to use his skill for someone in need.

“I was supposed to train with the search-and-rescue team’s canine dogs that day, but called them and said I was going to rescue a canine,” Morrison said. “They said, ‘wow, good luck.’”

After the Graces contacted him, Morrison and Esposito showed up the next day ready with their equipment.

“We met the couple,” Morrison said. “Shawn had his GPS tracker, and I had my drone. I brought it so we could see her. Mark was setting up, got our stuff, rappelled down three small waterfalls and one big waterfall. Then we sat with her and hanged out.”

Morrison said he and Esposito gave Jane Grace treats, looked out for her, and made her comfortable before putting her into a bag and ascending.

“We are so thankful that they reached out to us,” Skyla Grace said. “When we got to the location and realized Jane lower than expected, they didn’t hesitate. I can’t express my thanks to these men who reached out to strangers offering their help. When we got there and I saw the drops they had to go down I couldn’t believe that she survived and that they didn’t hesitate to rescue her.

“They are now part of our ‘ohana forever. Mark and Caleb, we can never thank you enough. We love you always. The Grace gang,” said Grace.

According to Skyla Grace, Jane Grace, her hunting dog, is doing fine. She had a small limp and her eye looked scratched, but when they got her up, she drank some water and walked out of the trail back to the truck.


Stephanie Shinno, features, education, business, and community reporter can be reached at 245-0424 or sshinno@thegardenisland.com.

  1. George Rowland January 17, 2021 9:16 am Reply

    Thank you Mark & Caleb for a truly amazing story ! and welcome home Jane Porter Grace, have a rest eat some treats and tell your pack your incredible story !

  2. Ashley January 17, 2021 10:16 am Reply

    Aww, what a good story. Good people those guys

  3. Terry Watt January 17, 2021 3:39 pm Reply

    Very nice of you but hello, no pix? No one had a cell phone camera? No go-pro? Not even a picture of the rescued dog!

  4. John Fraser January 17, 2021 6:21 pm Reply

    Nice job Mark and Caleb! Congratulations to Jane Porter Grace, Skyla and Shawn.

  5. jake January 17, 2021 10:42 pm Reply

    This is why the Humane Society won’t let you adopt a dog if you’re going to use it for hunting.

  6. Pam January 18, 2021 5:35 pm Reply

    What an inspirational and heartwarming story. Amidst all the noise; it was a much needed reminder of the resilience of the human spirit.
    That Caleb and Mark would selflessly risk their safety to rescue pup Jane is extraordinary.
    They are a perfect example of the best of us. Those who love and care about, and want to help their fellow human beings.
    Good job guys. Thank you.
    We need more stories like this.

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