I wrote a small synopsis, but the programmer that is Tom has written a MUCH better story….as you’ll read below….“The story of our engagement actually started way back in February, when I decided that using a geo cache would be a great idea. In theory it was, maybe not in practicality, but it turned out to be a very appropriate situation given our past tendency for horrible luck and demolition of all things with an electric current. But we’ll get to that later. If you are not familiar with Geocaching, then before reading this story, you need some background information from www.geocaching.com . Here’s the story… . Sunday – February 28th– During the three free hours I had between church and youth that day, I decided to run some errands for my upcoming backpacking trip on spring break. I stopped by Wal Mart a picked up a small photo album, some sticky laminate, a small notebook, and a waterproof dry sack. Then I headed over to Walgreens to print some photos for the album. After some cosmetic work on the album, it was ready to go. I pasted my message to the cover of the notebook using the laminate for waterproofing. I left some blank pages in the photo album for future pictures….like maybe, engagement or wedding ones…. . Monday, March 8th – Ben Gooch and I were on “Spring” break, although it was anything but spring like. As we trudged through four feet of snow on the mountains to sea trail in Pisgah National Forest, I was starting to have many second thoughts about the way this proposal was going to go. Would it still be this snowy in April? Will Kim mutiny and demand to go back to the car before we reach the peak? Should I have gone with my original plan of Black Balsam? But then there’s nowhere to hide it. Should I just put the ring in a Diet Mountain Dew? All of these are questions that bounced around in my mind like a pinball. I am, after all, named for the Pinball Wizard…but that’s another story. . All doubts subsided as Gooch and I finally topped Devil’s Courthouse, and the view answered all of my questions about whether this was going to be the spot or not. We sat down and chowed down on some granola and cheesy chex mix, and then it was time to hide the cache. I wanted to find a spot that could be well hidden away from the main overlook point as well as somewhat easy to access when Kim would look for the cache. I settled on a bush just up the hill from the overlook. Gooch wrote the first note that we would in theory read as an engaged couple, and I left the cache clipped securely around the base of a bush. It was well hidden, and no one who was not looking specifically for it would stumble upon it, right? And even if they did, the cache was thoroughly explained if opened, and no one with a soul would disturb it. In the cache was the photo album, decorated as best I could with a cover photo, and the notebook with instructions to leave us a note of encouragement or luck. Oh, and it had a note that asked if she’d marry me. No big deal. We were good to go. I said goodbye to Devil’s Courthouse, and wasn’t sure exactly the date I’d be back. . Friday, March 19th – Kim’s first backpacking trip! Or, in Tom’s eyes, a secret test to see if his mountaintop proposal was going to fly. Halfway through the trek, we descend DEEEEEP into Cane Creek Gorge…..and then have to come up and back out. Stopped halfway up the steep ascent, Kim stops to sit on a rock looking rather exasperated. At this point I am a bit worried. I ask her if she’s okay, and with a stubborn huff, she pops off the rock and starts climbing with determination, and probably a mild Asthma attack. I knew then that my proposal idea was going to be just fine.
Kim: yeah…I definitely likely had an asthma attack, but was afraid to seem non-outdoorsy so i trekked onward and i got to climb some sweet rocks….Monday, March 22nd – After two weeks of waiting for my geoache to be officially posted on Geocaching.com, I receive a message from whoever is in charge of that area telling me that because Devil’s Courthouse juts out over the Blue Ridge Parkway, that it is on National Park Service land rather than National Forest land, making my cache illegal. After some back and forth, it became apparent that my cache was not going to be posted. Oh well, I still had the coordinates and she could still find it. It just wouldn’t have any notes from people in it. No problem, right? . Friday, March 26th – While in Rugby, Tennessee, I take Kim out on a serious day of gecaching. This is part two of my preparation for the big day. I had to get her addicted to geocaching. It worked. We found nine that day and were even taken on a bit of a backcountry adventure through what we’re pretty sure is the base for some sort of cult. Kim: geocaching is addicting. I was completely hooked after this. Being as stubborn as I am, I wanted to find every single one and would not give up…I think this was part of his plan, so he’d make sure I found the ‘time capsule.’ Genius. Cult. yes, this was definitely a cult. why else would random 15 passenger vans be hidden in the middle of nowhere down a dirt/gravel road with no labels. it was not a business of any sorts, just a creepy as anything cult. . Thursday, April 8th – I make a short, leisurely, completely worry free drive up to Hendersonville…specifically the Saundersville Road area. Had to see some people about something. ? . Wednesday, April 14th – I bought the now infamous Magellan Triton 400. I hate this little piece of evil with all of my heart, mind, and soul. . Thursday, April 15th – I spend the good part of the afternoon fighting with the Magellan Triton, trying to get it to load caches from the website. Finally, I am successful, and we have eight geocaches to find during our upcoming hike, including the finale, “Time Capsule.” . Friday, April 16th – After a long, but fun drive East on 40, followed by a middle of the night cruise through the Great Smokey Mountains National Park, and then an even longer middle of the night cruise down the Blue Ridge Parkway, we made it to Devil’s Courthouse parking area around 4:00 a.m. it was time to sleep. As I was dozing off, I remember looking out the back hatch of the Pathfinder and seeing the shadow of Devil’s Courthouse up above. “See you in 36 hours,” I said, and then passed out. After waking up, Friday was a PERFECT day of hiking. We bypassed Devil’ Courthouse and walked up the Parkway to get to the next trail entry point, because well, I sort of wanted to finish at DCH…I had an idea or something. We climbed up Shuck Ridge, which is not for the faint of heart, or faint of lungs as Kimberly quickly found out. We then walked along the top of Pisgah Ridge enjoying the views, then up and over Black Balsam on a PERFECT sunny day. We failed to find our first few caches, which would be a precursor of things to come. We come down off Black Balsam, then down into Flat Laurel Creek, where we pitched our hammocks, built a fire, and had the best meal I have ever had on a backpacking trip. Zatorans Jumbolaya, with pre cooked chicken, and a pinch of Cajun Blackening seasoning. Delish! Kim: I have NO idea at this point. The weather was perfect, I caved in and decided I had asthma after almost dying on the way up Black Balsam after whatever the first hill we hiked was called… It was oddly frustrating him that we weren’t finding caches, but I had no idea we were being jinxed by the universe at this point…camp was perfect, dinner was perfect, this was easily, thus far the perfect camping trip…little did i know how much better it would get.. . Saturday, April 17th – When we finally peeled ourselves out of the warmth of our hammocks, I decided that I needed a windbreaker. And I also figured I should go for a short jog to warm up. Kimberly was confused by this odd behavior as I disappeared up the trail for a few minutes. Little did she know that I needed the wind breaker because I was stashing the ring in it’s pocket inside my pack, and I went for a jog so I could make the switch over into my pants pocket. Kim: He looked so weird randomly getting his raincoat and running around doing jumping jacks like a madman. I had no idea what he was doing and just assumed he was being his weird self and trying to make sure I would wake up and get on with my day… . We break camp and set off down a beautiful trail past a couple of cascades, walk up HWY 215 about a quarter mile to the Mountains to Sea trail, the spot where Gooch and I began our ascent through the four feet of snow over a month earlier. No snow this time. As we started making our way up the ridge, I state that we are going to find at least a couple of these geo caches, and turn on the gps. It informs me that an internal error has occurred and that it must shut down. Interesting. Lets try again. Same message. And again. And again. And again. Panic time. I decide it’s time to stop for a break and have some trail mix…but really to work on the GPS. I take the batteries out. I shake it. I yell at it. I give it dirty looks. I threaten it’s first born. Nothing. We move onward, and I am reworking a month’s worth of planning in my mind as we walk. Kim: GPS dies… I’m frustrated because I am now hooked to geocaching, but decided it was fine, only a few more caches anyway right? Again, little do I know… So we stop for a snack break because I was hungry and he really wanted to fix the GPS. He was unusually quiet after the GPS didn’t work on the way up to Devil’s Courthouse…stupid Magellan…I just wanted it to work because it was an awesome little GPS…I had no idea it was a key component in the greatest proposal ever… . We finally reach the intersection of the Devil’s Courthouse trail and the MTS trail, and we stop for some snack food. I inform Kimberly… “So you know those cheesy romantic things you like? Well, I tried one, and this GPS is killing it.” I told her that I had stashed a “Time Capsule” cache at the top of DCH with pictures and a sweet note, but that the GPS won’t work. So I gave her a hint, that she could find it inside of the 43rd president. At this point we were both a bit confused. I said, “Who was the 43rd president?” Just to be sure. When she said Bush, I said yeah, that’s right, it’s in a Bush. Kim: yay 🙂 I do love cheesy romantic things to a ridiculous extent. I didn’t see myself, but I’m assuming I had the biggest smile ever when he told me he had planned something. When he plans, he plans and goes all out, so I knew this was good, as always 🙂 I begin to try to mull over in my mind what this “time capsule” could possibly be…. time capsule has to include old and new things about us right? it couldn’t possibly be a ring could it? no, silly… I had no idea, I was just bummed that the universe hated us and anxious to figure out what treasure George Bush was stashing for me… . So, idea hit a little bit, but we’re still alive. We make it up to the summit and it’s a perfect day with perfect views. We take some pics, wander around a bit, in what felt like the longest 5 minutes of my life. Finally she goes to look for the “Time Capsule.” I help her a bit with hot and cold hints. She can’t find it. I go to help. I can’t find it. Uh Oh. We look all through the bushes, every square inch of that mountain top. It’s nowhere to be found. Now I’m just flat out reeling. Finally, after I realize it’s not there, I go and stand at the top and just wait for her. When she comes to give me a hug, I tell her, “Well, it did have a nice photo album in it, and a really nice note, and it said (Pulling ring out), “Kimberly, will you marry me?” She grins and says in a very Relient K fashion, Mmmhmm. And presto, we’re engaged. My ideas got a little obliterated, but hey, it was still at the top of a mountain. Not too shabby. It wasn’t until several minutes later that she realized she had said Mmmhmm, instead of yes, and said, “Well, I guess I should say yes now.” Down from the mountain we came, and made the 6.5 hour drive home, calling friends and relatives whenever we got a blip of service driving through the mountains on the through Nantahala and Chattahoochee Forests on US64 all the way to Chattanooga, then back up I24. So that’s the story ? Kim: PERFECTLY US=the only way to describe it. everything about this was perfect. and everything about it was us. including and especially the part about it going wrong. i can’t imagine how nerve wracking it was for him to wait while i tried to soak in the view from the top. I’m pretty sure i stood there a good 10 minutes just looking around at the view while random old people who we both thought would fall off the mountain took pictures near where the geocache was set to be. Then, I decide to go find george bush. He stays behind a bit (little did i know to set up a camera that would soon die to film the whole thing). I look, no luck. the hot cold game begins ( cute 🙂 ) no luck still. he looks. no luck. i’m stubborn, so i keep looking in the bush while he waits for me and (i think) is soaking in the view. Finally, I go over to him, hug him, kiss him and say its ok. he tells me what was in the cache, as you read above, and asks me to marry him. I’m not sure if i finished saying “Mhmm” before one of the biggest embraces and best kisses of my life. I just stared at it, put it on clearly, and could not stop smiling… 🙂 🙂 and then it registers and i remind him that “yes, I will marry you.” the rest is history, down from the mountain, getting a random couple to take our picture at the bottom. we were both a bit discombobulated and forgot to take pictures at the top. Then i have to wait what feels like forever to call anyone to tell them because Sprint does not have cell service anywhere then I kill 2 phone batteries on the home with the excitement and haven’t stopped smiling since 🙂 Be blessed, Tom and Kimberly 🙂