When it happenedFriday, November 08, 2013
How we got engaged, and lived.
William blogged his side of the story, and I've been waiting to tell mine!
The second day we were in Colorado, we decided to hike Flattop Mountain. We were warned by the park ranger going in the entrance that snow on the trail was deep and that the winds were about 70mph gusts or more that day. She suggested a different hike. We didn't have any special gear and neither of us had ever climbed a mountain trail in winter, but we decided to give it a shot. We started out in the woods where the trees blocked the wind and everything was going fine -actually, it was stunning. it was beautiful and quiet, with peek-a-boo views of the mountains around us as we climbed higher and higher. My hiking poles did occasionally sink way down into the snow right off the trail, so I was aware that there had been significant snow fall and we were walking on a raised, cleared path. There was some ice along the trail that we had to watch for, but the first part of our journey was so very pretty!
We were about to exit the tree line when a guy came out from a switchback corner on the trail and we asked him if he made it to the top? He said no, that he lost the guy in front of him's tracks in the snow as the wind was blowing fresh powder over them. He also warned us and said the wind gusts were really bad. He had turned around, afraid he would lose his way. Wimp! :) So far, the hike was so nice it was hard to imagine it being dangerous. And on we went.....
Next, we spot some locals and we are all climbing - they kind of pass me and start to catch up to Will. Will and one off the ladies stop ahead and are discussing something. Right about then, the snow gets really deep and I'm almost up to my waist. There's occasional wind gusts and Will reports back that we somehow hiked off the trail. He assures me its a slight course correction and say he can see it just over the ridge, so we wade through deep snow and rocks to get back on the trail. All I could think of with each step was that in CO, there are a lot of rattle snakes. These snakes are probably dinning in a cluster under the rocks and there's too much snow for me to see where I'm stepping.....My mind runs wild with the idea that I might survive the bite, but not the heart attack from seeing them. I get back to the trail, calmer, but I'm thinking if the locals got lost, we may be in trouble! At this point, I want to mention both of those ladies turned around and said they had to get back (My! My! Where DOES the time go?).... And we pushed on.
We reach Emerald Lake overlook, which was totally worth my panic attack over the snow drifts and imaginary herds of snakes. We continue climbing and meet two guys who look like they came out of mountain man magazine complete with flannel shirts, beards and crampons/ropes hanging from their packs. Again, hopeful, I ask if theysummit-ed the mountain, and they said no. It was too windy. Hmmmmm.
We get a little farther along the switchbacks and now we are in open terrain. Gusts are starting and you can hear the wind howl right before it plows into you like a linebacker. The only thing I could do was crouch low and keep working my way over. We must've been right on the continental divide because as I look over, I can see a constant airflow of snow/wind in one spot that I will have to cross assuming I can get to it.. I'm crawling along and I can see the summit (we are literally that close) but the winds are too strong and I got really scared. This almost never happens. Will was a little ahead of me and he was really trying to get me to come along. He's really working it -standing up leaning into the wind saying "See, it's okay -it's better right here" or "i can stand up!" as a gust nearly topples him over..... I told him I was no longer having fun, I was ready to turn around. I do not think he realized I now serious and scared I was. I'm not even sure I understood that those emotions had really sunk in while laying there on the ground getting wind whipped. He started to argue with me and I kept in mind that he had never climbed a mountain and I had to go with my gut. My gut had been telling me before I was crawling on the ground through the wind that things were getting too dicey. I did like his fearless spirit! It made me happy to see him so undaunted. I said he should go and I would wait for him. He was having none of that and was persistent that I go too. I was scared. i literally could not make myself. He looked so disappointed and I just busted out into tears. I was bawling my head off saying to him "Why would you want me to be scared? Why are you being selfish trying to make me go when I'm begging you to let me turn around?" He felt terrible. I could see it. I did not understand the disappointment I read on his face though-I thought he was disappointed in me. I was sad and I started tracking down the mountain crying my little eyes out. I had disappointed him. Was he trying to kill me? Did he want me to get blown off the mountain into a pack of rattlesnakes?
We continued going down for a while and he would stop me and try to reassure me that he only wanted to summit if we did it together. I begged him to do it alone because i didn't want to be the reason he held back. Again he told me he only wanted to do it with me. He said it wasn't important now and that we should stop to eat our lunch by Dream Lake. We kept walking on down and he started singing our song to me "I'm going to love you forever, forever and ever amen...." Over and over he would hug me or kiss my cheek when we would stop. I was conflicted. I didn't understand why he cared more about getting to the top than us both feeling safe and happy, and I thought I had really disappointed him, so I was really disappointed too....
We finally got back to Dream Lake. I started to sit down to rest and eat lunch but William would not let me. Was he CRAZY? i was tired! He said stand up.... And he took off his gloves and cap. I was confused and wondered if he had lost his mind undressing in freezing temperatures. He hugged me so tight, then in the next second, he was on his knee with the ring in a box holding my hand. He asked me if I would marry him.... And I said yes! I hugged him and then I understood and was so relieved! I started to cry and he told me that was why he wanted to get to the top. He had planned on asking me there. In the tornado winds. Us crawling on the ground. With me fearing for my life. Herd of snakes as witness. He's super romantic.
And that was the day my wonderful boyfriend became my incredible fiancé!