He Asked, I Said Yes

Rain, snow, wind and an engagement.

I apologize for not updating L + L sooner but I do have happy news to report: on our backpacking trip to Hole in the Wall and Boulder Peak, Cole proposed!

Dressed in my finest rain gear, I said yes. Wind whipping over Brown Pass, he fumbled through his heavy pack and pulled out the engagement ring, a Montana Yogo sapphire nestled in small diamonds on a white gold band. Stunning. All. Of. It.

Oh and the ring is beautiful too.

Cole proposed on Day #2 of our adventure from Bowman Lake to Hole in the Wall campground. We spent the first night in the pouring rain at the foot of Bowman Lake, setting up our campsite and looking to the foggy mountains hoping for a reprieve in the weather. On Thursday we awoke to a cold morning, packed our wet tent and loaded the canoe with our backpacks and boots for the paddle across the lake. After seven miles of paddling with a tailwind, we beached our canoe and traded our sandals for leather boots. The rain had mostly stopped, but the trail from the head of Bowman Lake to Brown Pass was a thick corridor of wet leave and shrubs. We hiked in wet clothes and boots for not even the best weather-proof outerwear can completely protect against the elements. We roamed up the trail, watched the fog and low clouds dance among the peaks. An enormous avalanche took out the Brown Pass campground and we had to pick our way through the debris and snowpack to find the trail leading to Hole in the Wall.

Somewhere just past the junction with Brown Pass and underneath the grassy flanks of Chapman Peak, Cole asked the question I’d been fervently hoping he would since our first date.  Yes, I’ve known ever since our first date at the tail end of the 2010 ski season that he was the guy I wanted to marry. Our proposal wasn’t a complete surprise for me. I knew that Cole asked my father for permission to marry me in July. Then, Cole wanted my help with picking out the engagement ring. We wanted to be engaged in time to surprise my mother when she arrived in Montana for her first trip here in over three years. And I knew that Cole wanted to proposed in our favorite place in the entire world: Glacier National Park. However, knowing about the pending engagement and the actuality of the event are two different experiences.

With a flood of emotions, we hugged, took a few pictures and then continued down the trail. It was a perfect moment. As we descended into the Hole in the Wall cirque  — rightfully touted as the most beautiful campground in all of Glacier  with its hanging valley, many waterfalls and streams, and alpine views — we were giddy with excitement, despite the howling winds and cold rain. Romantic dinners with candlelight and roses be damned, we were going to celebrate in the mountains with hot chocolate and whiskey and dehydrated lentil soup. I couldn’t have imagined a better engagement.

At the campground we set up our tent along a stream and while I was unrolling our sleeping bags, Cole called out to me. There was something in the stream he wanted me to see. Right away I knew what else he had put into his pack and why it was so damn heavy.

In the little stream by our tent was a bottle of Veuve Cliquot champagne. My future husband, my mountaineer and my skier, brought French champagne deep into the backcountry all for me and for our engagement celebration.

Adhering to Glacier’s rules about food consumption in designated food preparation areas only, we threw on our down parkas, and headed to the prep area to toast our engagement. No need for chilling the bottle since the temperatures were hovering around 40 degrees and there was fresh snow on the ground. Much to our surprise, two of my friends, volunteer backcountry rangers, were also camping at Hole in the Wall, charged with the duty of marmot-proofing the new pit toilet. There was also a party of three men, in their 30s who were on a meditation retreat. Crammed together under a tarp, huddled around our cook stoves, with strangers and friends, miles from any road, hotel or restaurant, we celebrated the next stage, a new pinnacle in our relationship.

After we had all finished our meals in the common area, one of the Buddhists, looked at Cole and me and told us he couldn’t have imagined a more beautiful place to do a more beautiful act. “It makes me so happy,” he said.

Both Cole and me couldn’t agree more.

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