Jill and I met at an REI Adventures weekend where I was the guide. On those weekends, we take the clients climbing and camping in Pisgah National Forest. Jill and her younger sister Kelsey were on one of those trips. My first impression of Jill and Kelsey were that they were late. Jill says they were on time but I clearly remember waiting for them to show up. The weekend went like any other weekend. The guests had fun and on Sunday afternoon we parted ways. Unbeknownst to me, Jill left with a huge crush on me. A few days later, I get a friend request from her on Facebook. I didn't think anything of it. Many times, I try to friend the people I take climbing so that we can stay in contact afterwards. Well as it turns out, she was using Facebook to find out information about me.
After returning home, she figured that I was not single and that I was not a Christian so she tried to write me off as someone that she will not date. She was surprised by what she saw on my page. I was single and I am a Christian. We started corresponding on Facebook soon after. Mid-summer, she was going to be giving some lectures in Greenville, SC which isn't too far away from Brevard and she asked me out to dinner. I was unsure if it was a date or just a friendly meeting. Well it turned out that it was a date. We had a great time and ended up hanging out the next two days as well. Our relationship had started.
Fast forward to December. She was coming to North Carolina for her Christmas break from teaching in Utah and I knew that I wanted to be with this woman. So I got a ring and had started making plans for asking her. I figured that since we met doing an outdoors activity that our engagement should have that element in it. Of course I wanted climbing but was unsure still. I remember having a conversation with my good friend Ron about this. He suggested either a summit or a valley. Both have their perks. With a summit, you have the whole world before you. And with a valley, you are closed into a more intimate setting of closeness. I chose summit. But which summit?
Through discussion, I found out that she had been to Table Rock before and enjoyed the hike to the top. Who wouldn't, it is a moderate hike that is about a mile from the parking lot. Once at the summit, you are rewarded with great views of Linville Gorge, Hawksbill to the north, and the Blue Ridge Mountains. So instantly, my thoughts zeroed in on making a plan to climb the East Face of Table Rock to the top and there on the top I would ask her to marry me. Jill had some a few multipitch climbs with me before and though she has had some issue with heights, they last for a second then she continues on. The plan was set. Now I just had to keep my cool that day.
That morning, we set out around 7:30 to head to Table Rock. It was a great drive until we got part way up Highway 221. It was there that I remembered that Jill tends to get motion sick on curvy roads. I do my best to take it easy. By the time I hit 181, Jill is starting to get curled up in the passenger seat. Then we finally hit the gravel road that leads to Table Rock. This was not good. Jill is curled up in a ball making noises but not talking for fear of throwing up. Finally, after what seems like forever we arrive at the parking lot. Jill gets out of the car and sits on a parking block near my car. I let her regroup herself. Finally, when she is feeling better we head to the base of the climbs. During the approach, I keep asking if she is excited. I can hardly contain myself but she is not as excited.
We get to the first pitch of the day. We are going to do Jim Dandy up to Lunch Ledge. From there I wanted to do either My Route or the Block Route. The first pitch goes great. I give her a kiss then I head up the second pitch. The second pitch, though easier, is more exposed. She does well until she is within sight of me. There she has a bit of fear creep up on her. She tells me to shut-up as I try to comfort her from 30 feet away. She gets up to the belay and we take a minute to chill out. I ask her if she still loves me. Lucky she responds with a yes. I then head up the third pitch to Lunch Ledge. Once Jill gets up there we take a good long break, eat lunch and discuss what to do next. I figured we would do the Block route instead of My Route because the second pitch of My Route would not be good for her.
Once we are ready, I head up the pitch. It is only 5.5 but has this one section that is tricky and a bit exposed. I then start to bring Jill up. She gets a few moves below "the block" when I start to hear some whimpers. Because of the block I am unable to see her. I try to talk to her but she is not happy with the situation. I am worried. I start thinking, "Have I ruined the day?" "We could descend but that would mean having to hike to the top." "Should I still ask her?"
Finally, I am able to talk to her a bit in her flustered state. I ask her what she wants me to do. Her response is, "I want to get off of this rock. The only way off of this f@%&ing rock is to f!@#ing go up." Now I had never heard her cuss like this before so I knew she was not super happy with the situation. I then ask if she wants me to pull her up through this section. She replied with a very firm yes. I thought, "Sweet! I can do this." I didn't even put on a haul system. I just pulled on her rope and pulled her up with brute force. After a bit more climbing, she was up on the ledge with me where the exposure quickly disappears thanks to trees and bushes. From here, we do a bit of walking and scrambling to the top. I then rig her for short roping to the top since some of the scrambling sections are exposed. She enjoyed this part of the day. Once up top, we walk to the north end of the summit.
On the summit, we take off the gear and get organized. I notice that there is a fuzzy little mouse watching us in the nearby bushes. Jill is sitting on a rock so I sit down next to her after packing up the gear. I once again ask her if she still loves me. And of course she does. I then sneakily find the ring in my pack and pull it out of the case. At this point, I am getting nervous. I know she will say yes but still, I am about to ask a question that will affect the rest of my life. Finally, I get the nerve up to ask. The funny part was that I don't think I every fully asked her. I pull the ring out into view and ask, "will you?" Next thing I know she wraps me up in arms and kisses me. I interpreted this as "Yes! I will gladly marry you." We then spend a few minutes on the summit enjoying the moment, the moment when we decided to spend the rest of our lives together. We also snapped a few pictures on my phone. I also remember telling the fuzzy little mouse that I will be marrying this lady next to me. We then hike down and talk about our upcoming wedding.
Right after I asked Jill to marry me.
Once back at the parking lot, I let Jill drive to help with the motion sickness. Near the end of the paved road leaving the parking lot, we stop and look up at the East Face. I showed Jill where we had climbed. She then remarks that this was the highest that she had ever climbed. I do have to hand it to this woman. She loves me enough to put herself through things that are not as enjoyable for her as they are for me. She is always open to trying out new adventures.
Since that day, we have been planning our wedding day. It has been a bit difficult with Jill living in central Utah but she has been doing a great job of it. I am excited for it. It will present new challenges in life but I am excited about them. I am also excited about not knowing what all the future has for us but that whatever it is we will get to do them together. Just a few days ago, we past the date the marked six months until our wedding which is on August 17th. I was able to spend it with Jill in Utah. Though I have been able to see Jill once a month since we started this relationship, I am looking forward to not having to travel across the country to see her.