I've got to ask...how close were you to using that "panic button"?
You know, I never even considered it. In the back of my mind the beacon is for something really bad, like a broken leg, life-threatening injury, or some other reason I couldn't make it out under my own power.
Now that I do think about it, I doubt Search & Rescue could have gotten to me until morning anyway. In the county we used to live in I was an S&R volunteer, so I also consider why get them out of their nice warm beds in the middle of the night just because I'm not in mine? The hardest part was just making the decision to spend the night. I knew I was no more than a mile or so from the truck and I sure wanted to go home to my wife, supper, and a warm home. The temptation was to keep on slogging, and chances are I could have gotten away with it. But once you slog until you can physically slog no more and for some reason you're still not back at the rig (I would have ended up in that big blow-down), then you're in a real pickle. That's why I've schlepping all that gear around for years, so that something like this is just inconvenient or uncomfortable rather than turning into a life-or-death emergency.