Day 16 – The story of how I proposed to Maria (Fontana Dam Shelter to Spence Field Shelter)

16.8 miles, 46,391 steps, 653 stories climbed

191.5 miles, 548,587 steps, 5282 stories climbed
Trail Magic Moments: 9
Back to the trail ladies and gentlemen.  It was a very good way to start the trail, Fresh Ground had his set up again, he was actually in town getting supplies but his buddy Mack was making some pancakes, with apples and walnuts in them. He had his usual kool-aid, coffee, bananas and apples.  It’s funny but I’ve had 9 trail magic moments and 3 of them are thanks to Fresh Ground.
After stuffing my face it was time to home on, a nice easy start as we hiked on a paved road towards the dam and had some beautiful views as we hiked across the dam.
Roadside, who got his name from always walking along the side of the road as a kid, with no real purpose he just liked walking, Not Yet and myself entered the Great Smoky Mountains and were welcomed with a brutal climb.  I’m sure you can tell based on the stats.
Still, the weather was gorgeous today and we wanted to take advantage of it. We got to the top of the first mountain and for the first time, I came across a lookout tower and was actually able to see something other than fog.

      The three of us climbed to the top and marveled both at the Smokies and the Fontana Dam in the distance, which we had been walking across only 2 hours before.

Eventually, we had to walk down and get back to hiking. Roadside fell back to have some lunch and Not Yet and I hiked on.
We spoke a bit about our amazing significant others and I told him the story about how we met since, the 8 year anniversary was yesterday.
I then went on to tell him the story of how I proposed to Maria.  I had the ring already, having purchased it while she was away in China for school. Having already failed at one attempt at proposing to her (was originally going to propose to her during a mud run but I couldn’t get her to take off work to actually do the race with me) I wanted to make sure the second attempt was really special.
Her and I were about to travel to Guatemala and we would be there for our anniversary May 20th.  I planned on bringing the ring to propose that day but there were two problems with that, first, I forgot to bring the ring and second, her brother told us before we left that he was going to propose to his girlfriend (now wife) on that day.
So, as we were wondering around Guatemala one day, Maria needed to go to an Internet cafe for some reason so I said I would walk around town for a bit.  I had a mission though and that was to find a replacement ring to propose with, should the moment arise.  I found a nice wooden ring and quickly hid it in my wallet.
On May 13th, we arrived at Semuc Champey and entered this gorgeous park.  The words and pictures don’t really do this place any justice but the cascading pools, surrounded by a beautiful lush forest was absolutely incredible.  We took a half hour hike up to this nice platform overlooking the whole park and it was just incredible.  Between the beautiful views and the monkeys swinging around (a favorite of Maria’s) I knew I couldn’t top that moment and knew that was the time to propose.  One problem though, knowing that we’d be swimming in the water I didn’t bring my wallet so, I didn’t have the backup ring either.


I ended up proposing to her with the stem of a leaf tied up to look like a ring.  At first she didn’t actually believe me, she had to confirm I was being serious but eventually she actually said yes! (I have no idea why though). 

Not Yet and I eventually came across this tree and took pictures in it, he stayed behind to have lunch and I hiked on.  When I arrived at Spence Field Shelter, just about everyone from the Fontana Dam Shelter was there. I felt like I just returned to an old favorite bar where everyone new me (like Cheers or something).
We all ate and then sat by the fire talking about all kinds of stuff from home and our crazy hiking experiences.
Not Yet and Failure got the crazy idea to hike another 7 miles after dinner to try and take advantage of the nice weather (it’s supposed to rain a bunch the next two days) but I did’t even give it a thought. I don’t want to risk overdoing it right now and night hiking in serious bear country also doesn’t sound like a good idea.
Hopefully, they will be fine and I will see them in Gatlinburg in a few days.

One thought on “Day 16 – The story of how I proposed to Maria (Fontana Dam Shelter to Spence Field Shelter)

  1. Everyone I read your stories to agree that you should write a book about your experiences since you’re a good storyteller. I look forward everyday to reading a new chapter of your travels. Btw you missed the 1st day of spring snow that we had. It was enough for my job to close early. Let me know when you get the package we sent. Miss you. ❤

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