For anyone who follows me on Instagram, this is a repeat, but I wanted to share it here too.
A bit of history…
Jesse and I first met back in 2006. I was just a few months out of college and started teaching outdoor and environmental education for the Appalachian Mountain Club right at the base of Mt. Washington. He was working as the winter caretaker at the Harvard Mountaineering Club’s cabin a few miles up the trail below Huntington Ravine. The first time we hung out, we stayed up all night talking and he called us “instafriends.” I was insta-smitten. Jesse and our friend Dave (who is awesome and plays an important role in this story later) convinced me to climb Mount Washington one snowy afternoon, a pretty epic ascent for my first New Hampshire 4,000’+ mountain, one of the many we would go on to hike together. (For those not familiar, New Hampshire has 48 peaks above 4,000′ tall, and it’s common among hikers to hike them all.) We spent a few great months playing in the mountains – hiking, flying around in his first plane, and snuggling and watching movies at AMC’s Lonesome Lake Hut where he was the spring caretaker – before he headed back to Orcas. I visited the island later that year, and coincidentally, I was there the same week he bought the property where we’ve lived together for the past year. With neither of us interested in a long-distance relationship, we parted ways as friends, though I still wished it could have been more.
After I visited Orcas in August 2006, life took us in different directions but we met up for drinks or a hike a few times and exchanged emails or phone calls here and there. We hadn’t been in touch in about 5 years when I happened to run into Dave (who I hadn’t seen in about 10 years) at, of all places, Lonesome Lake Hut. I sent Jesse a text with a picture of us (“Hey! Look where I am and who I’m with!”), not even expecting him to have the same number, but he wrote back and we exchanged messages for a bit. A few months later, we met up when he was back on the east coast, promising each other it wouldn’t be the start of anything serious. I had recently ended a long-term relationship and he was fully devoted to finishing his book. Despite that promise, it was only a matter of a few months and several cross-country visits until I moved to Orcas last June.
Since then, we’ve had some amazing adventures together, backpacking the Wonderland Trail around Mt. Rainier, flying across Canada, visiting Germany with Stefan and his family, nearly finishing our 4,000-footers during some time back in New Hampshire last fall, and flying back across the US with a stop in Moab for some mountain biking. We’ve also spent plenty of time just enjoying living on Orcas together, working around the property, spending time with friends, sailing, fostering a sweet dog, and hanging out with Pepper, Jesse’s horse. We were so excited for adventures in the new seaplane, and it turns out Jesse had been planning something else too. Hoping we could make it back to New Hampshire this fall, he was planning to propose on top of Owl’s Head, our last 4,000-footer. A New England mountaintop proposal may have been replaced by a Colorado hospital bed proposal, but I couldn’t be happier that we’re engaged. Our adventures in the foreseeable future may look a little different than we expected, but I know that no matter what, our lives together will be amazing. And at some point, we’re going to make it up Owl’s Head to finish our 4,000-footers!