Alright guys, saddle up and take notes. This, is how you get engaged.
From the first day we met Andy and Lauren, it was apparent how in love with each other they are. The way they hold each other, the steamy looks, all that good good mushy gushy lovey dovey kinda feel good stuff. So it was no surprise to us when Andy approached us with his master vision of the greatest moment of his life, asking Lauren to share the rest of her life with him.
I met Andy for breakfast and we went over his month-long game plan for their overland trip that covered everything from a multi-day SUP descending through the ancient layers of Green River’s canyons, to shimmying through the slot canyons of Grand Staircase/Escalante National Monument, to lakeside camping and R&R on Lake Powell outside of Page, AZ, and finally wrapping up rock climbing in Moab, UT (not to mention the myriad of 4×4 adventures in-between).
Of course, as they say, “an adventure isn’t an adventure until something goes wrong.” So when we set out to rendezvous on the shores of Lake Powell (the originally designated engagement location), Mother Nature had other plans. While we envisioned dropping to a knee atop paddle board, sunset blazing behind them, passions burning with the setting sun, a monster storm system rolled over the entire SW and put us on our toes and back at the drawing board. While I was a stone’s throw away, outside Monument Valley, awaiting Andy’s GPS pin drop of his exact location (the expanse of BLM Land is immense so precision is key), I instead received news that we were facing a hardscrabble to reconfigure the big moment. Rains had drawn in on their favorite Lake Powel hideaway along with the rest of Utah. Rather than spend the next week drenched and trapped in a sandy mud pit, Andy and I scoured DOPLAR forecasts for the state and found the last moment of fair-weather refuge back north in Moab. After our rendezvous the next day, we shot north to spend the next several days salvaging the sunshine, climbing sandstone and BLM camping outside of Moab between Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. Our first day while the sandstone was drying from the recent showers, we scouted climbing routes for the ideal aspect and opportunity for Andy to “teach Lauren to clean gear up top”.
Following the mandatory 24-48 hour drying time for sandstone, we made an early start to claim our routes for the morning. Andy lead the first route of the day to set me up with a top rope opportunity to climb with my camera gear. While Andy sent the route with zero beta, we later found out it was rated in the 5.11 range – not bad for a warm-up! I followed up on the route, built an anchor at the top, and settled in for the big show. Andy then lead the route next door and anchored off up top. Lauren gave chase to meet him at the top. Once they settled in up top, Lauren went on to her personal anchor and Andy proceeded to calm her mind and actually coach her on cleaning gear (nothing like a little knowledge to warm the heart!). After Lauren’s nerves settled from the process of untethering her safety line and rethreading it for a descent, Andy brough her in to him and shared a quiet moment after her efforts and bravery.
Everything was right, the entire trip went off without a hitch, hitches granted… this moment was theirs. After weeks of dirtbagging and hiking and paddling and cliff jumping and offroading and sunburn and laughing and living life as it’s meant to be lived, the universe smiled upon them and Andy pulled the ring out of his pocket. Lauren was beside herself, blindsided by it all at that moment. She gasped, she was speechless, and then she said yes…