Since it is the month of love, what better story to tell than my own engagement story. Let’s just say it didn’t go quite as planned…
It was a beautiful April morning and Chad decided that we should go rock climbing. I agreed and we set out to conquer the 450′ tall Independence Monument.
There were 4 pitches to climb and we made it to the top fairly easily. Just another fun day rock climbing!
Once we were at the top we enjoyed the views for a few moments before Chad got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. I was a little shocked and mortified that my hands were covered in chalk dust. I of course said “YES!” and then Chad proceeded to pull out a small bottle of sparkling apple cider from his backpack. We wrote our romantic story in the trail registry book that sits on top of the rock. We celebrated for a few moments and then realized the sun was starting to set so we better get a move on.
The plan for descending was to rappel from the top to the middle and then the middle to the bottom. Simple right. We rappelled down the first 200 feet rather quickly. Chad then set me up to go first on the final rappel. I rappel down about 100 feet and came to a small ledge. To me it only looked like I had one route to the bottom so I went over the side of the final cliff. With about 50 feet to the ground I realized that I had come to the end of the rope (luckily Chad had tied a knot in the end of it, so I couldn’t slip through).
I had no cell phone on me, I didn’t know how to ascend the rope, I couldn’t safely climb down without a rope, and when I tried to yell up to Chad he could not hear me. This is the moment when shear panic set in. And to make matter worse by this time the sun had set and it was dark.
When Chad and I would try to communicate, all I could make out was the rippling echo of a voice passing through a canyon. I was completely helpless, like a fish on a line.
I just sat in my harness, in the dark, with bats flying around me, and tears streaming down my face. It was the engagement from hell.
2 hours went by and then all of a sudden I could see two headlamps in the distance coming towards me. Chad had his cell phone and was able to call his friends to come rescue me! The plan was that they would climb up the rock from the other side and then when they get to the ledge where I made a wrong turn, they would descend with enough rope and clip me into their rope and then lower me down.
They started climbing when search and rescue suddenly showed up. Apparently, Chad also called search and rescue when he thought that his friends might not be able to save me. Chad’s two friends were able to get to me and successfully lower me down. When I reached the ground, everyone kept trying to give me water and blankets, but all I wanted to do was to go pee. I ran off into the dark and used mother nature’s bathroom. When I got back Chad had rappelled down and we were united!
We began our 2 mile hike to the trailhead. When we reached the parking lot the search and rescue captain said that he had a few questions for us. And they were strangest questions…
- “Do you own an ATV?”
- “Do you own a boat?”
- “Did you purchase a fishing license this year?”
- “Do you have a SARS card?”
We answered “no”. And then he told us since we never purchased one of the above which helps to fund search and rescue that he would have to send us a bill. And then he proceeded to ask for our address. I started crying again. I thought for a moment that I wasn’t going to be able to have a wedding because I would instead have to pay for this traumatizing experience.
“Just Kidding”. That is what the Captain said to me. Had I not already gone through enough that he had to play a joke on me.
I was relieved to find out that the news cameras that had been on the scene left before we arrived. I don’t think I could have handled an interview. But this is the story that the Daily Sentinel wrote up…
I did end up marrying Chad and we are very happy together! For our 5 year anniversary we are going to climb Half Dome in Yosemite. Let’s hope I don’t have any crazy stories this time!