Michael and I had been planning a Moab camping/hiking trip with four of his best friends for a few months now. Two of them, David and Jen, live in New Jersey (about 30 minutes out from NYC). The others, Brian and Candace, have been together since high school (over 10 years ago) and recently got engaged last summer. She’s been completing her fellowship as a practicing law professional in DC and he lives close to us in the Valley, working as a civil engineer.
Our inside joke for our trip was this: three lawyers, two engineers, and a trainer go camping in Red Rock Country… (punch line in a minute)
We planned to camp and hike for 4 nights, dividing our time between Canyonlands National Park and Arches National Park. I was ready to get out of the city for a while and spend time in Southern Utah. I was ready for red rocks, seeing the winery, and hiking some of the most famous and ridiculously beautiful trails in our state.
Jen, Dave, Michael and I were the first to travel down since Candace caught a flight a day later. It wasn’t a full-on backpacking trip (thankfully), so we were able to bring coolers and heavier-duty sleeping bags and tents. We reached the Willow Flats campground in Canyonlands at about 12:25pm, just 5 minutes shy of campground check-in. The ranger at the preface of the park told us all the slots were full, but we decided to try anyway. It was worth the scenic drive alone!
Miraculously, we found the very last spot available and paid for two nights. Candace and Brian arrived late the next evening. (Brian is easily the most outdoors-type person I’ve ever met in my life. For instance, 100 mile trekking hikes are one of his top hobbies. He’s a pro with a dutch-oven and camp stove. Honestly, if you’re ever stuck in the woods without extra food or clean water, THIS is your guy. Speaking of 100 mile trekking hikes, that’s how he proposed to Candace. On the fourth day, she was nearing a mental breakdown from exhaustion/lack of utilities/the craziness of it all, he pulled out the ring and asked her to marry him. Perhaps as a way to compensate for the next 60 miles to hike?)
After the second night, we packed up our stuff and made the drive over to Arches National Park. (Honestly, after the hours of riding backseat, I’ll be happy never to see a minivan again.) We spent time walking through rock formations like Park Avenue, Balanced Rock, and Devil’s Garden. All were incredibly beautiful and powerful to look at.
I was pretty exhausted by the third day, but knew the others wanted to make the hike up to see Delicate Arch on our last day in Moab. All I knew was it was the famous rock on the old-school Utah License Plate. Not wanting to be the odd woman out, I sucked it up and got my gear together for our hike. Listed as one of the most strenuous available in the area, I was pretty nervous. Dating a hiking enthusiast has its challenges at times, but I love that we can be active together.
The majority of the hike was in 95 degree dry heat and up steep slick-rock. I was drenched halfway up and running out of water pretty fast. I was getting a little agitated from the heat, but Michael made sure everything was alright. We still had .75 mi to the top, and we took a small break for sunblock and catching a breather. Then, onward.
Once to the top, it was BREATH-TAKING. Turning the corner and facing steep drop-offs on either side of the cliff, with Delicate Arch resting idly on the right side. I could see why this monument made it on a license plate. It was glorious!
Michael was busy, shooting away with his Canon camera, while the rest of us sat on a nearby ledge. There was a long line of other hikers, waiting to have their picture taken underneath the Arch. This was something that I noticed everywhere we went in Moab- gobs and gobs of tourists, even as far traveling as France and Poland.
After a few minutes, David asked if Michael and I wanted some pictures together, which of course we did. Michael handed over his Canon to David. I walked over to stand next to Michael, who was fiddling with his huge hiking camera bag. David mentioned that there was only a little battery life left in that rechargeable. (Anyone who knows Michael knows this would NEVER happen.) Complying, Michael reached into his bag while I looked on towards the Arch behind us. No sooner did I look back did I find Michael on one knee with a crimson ring box and a whole bunch of glitter going on inside.
“Amy, will you marry me?” The seconds there lasted for what seemed like hours. I had tunnel vision going on. All I could think was, ‘WAIT. You’re serious?!’ It took me a while to realize what was really going on, and I stood there, giggling like an idiot. Finally when it hit me, the tears came uncontrollably. David and Jen were snapping pictures of us like crazy and were videoing the moment. Finally, words. “Of COURSE I will!”
My legs were quivering like mad and I laughed as I told Michael I needed to sit down. Our friends and other tourists were shouting things from behind us, like “Congrats!” and “We got you!” David, Jen, Brian, and Candace were in on this the whole time. I couldn’t believe it! I felt this moment was coming but I was trying (unsuccessfully) to bring up anything wedding or marriage-related. I wanted the full-on surprise. I got it.
I was floating on air for the next 24 hours before we drove back home. Apparently, there were plans for us 6 to have a nice lunch at Michael’s parents’ home and we were in a time crunch. One I texted my parents the engagement news, we had more plans to meet them afterwards for dinner in Downtown SLC. Fast forward: everyone knew but me. All of our friends knew the plan but were trying, mercilessly, to keep it under wraps. My parents and his had known for a month.
At Michael’s parents’, there was a cheesecake waiting with strawberry champagne. His mom had prepared this beautiful lunch of baked salmon for us all. For the first time, I was greeting them not only as his girlfriend, but as their future daughter-in-law. I loved every minute of it. We toasted with the champagne and laughed for a few hours and told stories about our trip. I was wearing the same camping clothes for almost 3 days, unshowered, and covered in red-rock dirt, with the biggest smile imaginable plastered on my face. I didn’t care. I couldn’t believe it.
As far as plans for the future… we’re thinking October. 🙂
I can’t wait to be his wife!!!
…and the trainer ends up with the most precious rock of all.