25. The Engagement Hike (May 2014) Almost exactly five years ago, Kate had been small (comparatively), spry, and fit. She had trotted up this trail behind Mister, casually checking to see if there were any lumps in his pockets that could indicate the size and shape of a ring box. (She later discovered said size and shape wrapped up in Mister's sweatshirt in the backpack...all in the natural course of getting a water bottle. But she wisely didn't let on until later.)
Now, she was large (practically elephant-sized), slow, and decidedly not fit. She did not trot. In fact, even thinking about "trotting" made her impulsively tuck a hand under her belly for support--even though she didn't need it for the careful, heavy, pachyderm steps she was taking. Nevertheless, this was a hike she wanted to do, though she continued to question the sincerity of that resolve for the next several hours. The hike was the 7 Bridges Trail in Cheyenne Canyon, continuing past the bridges and toward a meadow, where they would cut up the side of the mountain, scale a rocky outcrop on the top of the hill, and survey the Springs on one side and the continuing mountain range on the other.
the "non-proposal" rocks
She was surprised at how much she remembered--the different styles of bridges, particularly steep and windy switchbacks, bare patches where Mister had made her run during the thunderstorm 5 years ago, and the large rocks where she had tried to entice him into "taking a break" (which in her mind, meant stopping to get out the ring box.) She even remembered the nondescript spot where they broke off the trail and bounded (oh, to be spry and fit again!) up the side of the mountain.
What she did not remember was the heat and the sun. Of course, when they hiked the trail before, it must have been cloudy since there was a thunderstorm on their way back down. And that had made the whole hike more perfect than perfect! Kate had never been one to dream too many dreams about her wedding or perfect dates or the like...but she had thought when she was younger that her ideal proposal would be on the top of a mountain in a thunderstorm. And it was God's special gift to her to grant this seemingly unimportant wish, to have thunderstorms both over the Springs and beyond the mountains on the other side. Kate and Mister had sealed their love and promise to each other on the top of the mountain in perfect safety, and then began the descent before the rain came their direction. Kate remembered all this fondly. What wouldn't she give for some rain now!
Mister kept a bottle of ice cold water in hand (which they filled up in the creek running through the canyon) for the sole purpose of dousing Kate whenever she looked overheated. No thunderstorms were in sight this day. Kate had at least expected more shade along the trail, but the sun beat down mercilessly, making her drag her steps and stop frequently. Finally, they made it to the flat area...the true moment of commitment. Would they go up the side of the mountain, and scale the rocks to reach the proposal site? Could she?
Kate knew she would regret it if she didn't at least try. So, like the Little Engine that Could, she huffed and puffed and hauled her heavy load up the mountain, scrambled through scrub oak, scraped her legs, climbed the cliff, and eventually, made it to the top. There were good flat rocks to sit on, perfect for reminiscing and sneaking sweet kisses. When the happy couple cared to look around, the glorious view of the Springs greeted them, framed beautifully by the pine covered mountains. This too, she remembered. And it was all worth every painful step...and the atrocious sunburn she'd have on her shoulders for the next week, too!