During what I thought was one of our routine backpacking trips, this one to the Hoh Rainforest over the 4th of July weekend, Birddog popped the question. This picture is literally moments after he asked me to marry him. No faking those cheesy smiles, the elation on our faces is true love at its finest, even with my amazing outfit!
What the heck? A real ring? For me? Silvery, shiny, diamondy, pinky sized, bling-bling, cuteness. I'll let you in on the juicy details...it's a kinda long, but it's a doosey!
The Beginning of Birddog & Bits...
It was 6 years ago that Birddog and I first visited the Hoh. It was in March 2002 during our Spring Break trip from the University of Minnesota. We were just friends at that point, really just friends. We met earlier that fall through COA (Center for Outdoor Adventure), our schools volunteer trip leading organization, we were both adventure guides. We ended up having several classes together too, same major; Outdoor Recreation Education. So we got to talking about Spring Break. I told him my plans of visiting my brother in Seattle, and we decided to go together. Yeah!
During our trip to Seattle we planned to backpack in the Hoh Rain Forest on the Olympic coast. It ended up being a little more cold and wet than we anticipated. Not being entirely prepared with rain gear or snow pants (maybe subconsciously on purpose) we spent most of the 3 days in the tent listening to the heavy wet snow plop down through the trees and land on the tent. We had some great adventures leaping through the snow covered forest and across downed trees. We even came across a herd of Roosevelt Elk! The days were short, wet and cold. We ended up spending lots of 'quality' time in the tent trying to keep warm and keeping busy... I taught him how to knit and he taught me to crochet! We also played lots of cribbage and had a disco party with our headlamps and the infamous "Hoh Rag". During that trip we nick-named it that area the Hoh 'Snow' Forest, what a cool place. Looking back on it now, it's easy to say our first trip to the Hoh is where we fell in love.
Since that first cold wet trip, we had always talked about another trip to the Hoh 'Snow' Forest, only next time we'd go during the summer months. So time came and our backpack trip was planned for this July, and in my mind it was just one of the regular fun trips we do.
So it began; Birddog & Bits' second backpacking trip to the Hoh...
The trip was planned to include climbing Mt. Olympus, a 20 mile hike in and up to the top of the 8,000 foot peak. We had packed our helmets, rope, cramp-ons, ice axes, regular gear and good food.
Day one; fun, beautiful, exhausting, and worth it. Dinner was on the gravel bar of the Hoh River, so peaceful.
Day two; long, uphill, rainy, and cold, but still beautiful. Half a mile before our base camp destination, I was contemplating turning around. We just got done zig-zagging through downed trees; a mess leftover from a late season avalanche. It was drizzling harder and next up was a steep snowfield to cross and an even steeper chossey, slippery rock slope to get down first. And to top it off Birddog, whom hiked ahead of me, saw an adult Black Bear come out of the woods and cross the snowfield. Just as I got to him the bear had vanished and a giant tire sized boulder came crashing down the snowfield we intended to cross. My nerves were at wits end, my body was cold and sore, and my mind was not liking the idea of death by boulder nor bear.
Birddog to the rescue! With his determination and skill he crossed first and came back to take my pack, so I could make the crossing quickly with a steadier foot. I felt better once on the other side of danger and knowing we were moments away from our site. Birddog carried his pack and mine through the snowpacked trail. He's such a nicey! He always knows the right things to say and do, to keep my spirits up. We made it to the Glacier Meadows base camp. There were about 3 or 4 other parties up there, all intending or have already attempted to summit Mt. Olympus.
It was cold, I was hungry and tired. We made hot drinks, Birdy set up the tent on the open snow field, then later moved it to a more secluded "drier" spot by a creek. We made another delicious dinner all the while it was still drizzling.
It wasn't really a wet drizzle more like a super fine moist cloudy mist. Anyway, I was full but still chilled. I climbed in the tent and into my sleeping bag; all bundled up in my purple puffy down jacket, neck gator, long underwear, mittens and my balaclava- black head & neck cover, super warm!
Finally warmed up I began to read my little book while Birdy cleaned up camp, thanks Birddog! He hung the food bag on a bear line, cleaned up the dishes and stove, and as he came to the tent I realized I didn't have any water left. I asked him to refill my water. This seemingly easy task meant more than just turning on a spigot and getting a drink. He had to get the water pump and watter bottle, trek down to the creek, find a deep enough spot to pump the water through the filter, put the pump and its parts back, and scamper back up to the tent. He did all that for me!
As he opened the tent to hand me my water I leaned forward to let him in too. As he crawled in to the tent he said he brought me something and handed me a deteriorating plastic bag from the Dollar Tree store. I didn't understand where this tattered bag came from and asked him "really?" He said "yes, I brought this gift for you". I thought for sure he just found this bag down by the creek and he wanted to show me something crude inside. As I carefully opened the bag I pulled out a gift wrapped package. Still unsure, but not doubting him as much I opened it and pulled out a book. On the cover of this book was a picture of us. As I flipped through the pages my heart fluttered. He had made me a personal album from our trips and experiences together. Every picture was of the two of us! It was the sweetest thing, and to think that he carried this gift 20 miles in and about 6,000 feet up.
Totally surprised and with warm fuzzies in my chest I turned to him to thank him. At that moment he handed me another little gift. A small golden brown box with a satin bow. I eagerly took it from him and said "and you brought me chocolates!?" As I shook the box, I noticed the look in his eyes, they didn't say chocolate. The noise from inside didn't sound like chocolate either. As I anxiously untied the bow I was thinking, no way, he got me diamond earrings! I had talked about getting diamond earrings many months ago and I couldn't believe he remembered.
When I opened the box instead of finding diamond earrings, I found a precious sparkley diamond ring. With wide eyes and in shock, I turned to look at my Birddog and he asked me to be his wife. My head was turning from him to the ring and back to him again. It may have taken a few moments for my answer, but of course I said "YES!"
I took the ring out of its box, and placed it on my finger. It was a bit too small for my ring finger, but it fit nicely on my pinky. With tear welled eyes and a smile bigger than the sea, I said "YES!"
I still couldn't believe what was happening way out there in the wilderness, days away from civilization, all bundled up in my warm things, Birddog asked me to marry him! How crazy strange, unreal, fantastic, romantic, unexpected, thoughtful, best moment of my life! So perfect, in the Hoh with my best friend Birdy, sweaty and dirty, and perfectly warm from the inside and out. We've had some really great times in our tents, but this one topped them all!
So it was late, we were engaged, and I had that beautiful ring on my finger. I couldn't sleep. I took pictures, a quick movie, and kept flashing my big rock all around the tent.
I had to check out every angle of my new piece of jewelry. Bling Bling! I have a diamond ring! So after a few hours I must have worn myself out flashing my hand all over the land and I drifted off to sleep. Snuggling through our puffy down sleeping bags we slept right through the alarm clock that was supposed to get us up early for our ascent of Mt. Olympus.
Day three: The drizzle stopped, the sun broke through, I slept in late, I had a diamond ring on my finger, and my fiance' brought me mocha in bed. We enjoyed the morning, packed up for a day hike to the Mt. Olympus Buena Vista. I took several dozen photos of my new ring!
I guess since there wasn't anyone to show it to, I had to capture the moment to share with others later. The hike up was wonderful. Great views and a greater realization that the ascent to the summit was way burlier than either of us imagined. It will best be left for a trip back with Joe.
I put my ring back in the box so it wouldn't get lost, dirty or damaged on our hike back down.
The hike down was way easier. Maybe I was still high from the night before and didn't really notice the difficulty.
Once we got to our gravel bar spot we set up camp, did a quick and dirty dip in the river- burrr it was cold!
We made our last delicious dinner and started a camp fire.
We enjoyed the night and held on to the moment of being in the Hoh together.
Day four: Another beautiful day! Easy in the beginning then half way through, extreme pain. My legs, knees, and feet were jacked. Sore, puffy and swollen, and blistered. It hurt, it hurt really bad, but at least I had a little bit of shiny love on my finger-Bling Bling! I don't know how, but I powered through the 9 mile day making it back to the truck just in time to enjoy my shiny new bling bling and to give my ballooning knees a break. Once we made it to cell phone range we made many calls to the family to share the news. Birdy got me an ice pack and we made it to the Bainbridge Island Ferry just before sundown. Such a perfect day to end an amazing and life changing backpacking trip.
So what did you do over the 4th?