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Archive for the 'Marriage' Category

Finally, some mountain biking

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

I heard the trails were in good shape at Brown County State Park, so I went mountain biking last night. Sarah came to the park with me and did some reading in a picnic area. We’ve done this a few times before, and it works out well, although I always contend that I have more fun than she does. She begs to differ. As she says, “you can’t compare riding and reading.” I’m not comparing them, I’m just saying biking is better.

After sitting in our shed all winter, my mountain bike is in need of some serious attention. I gave it a quick once-over, cleaned a bit, and lubed the chain, but it’ll need a lot more work. I think the roof must leak because there’s more rust on my bike than I expected. My mountain bike felt so clunky and inefficient compared to the road bike, but it really does pay off having a heftier bike with a suspension fork on the trails.

I set out, excited about my first trail riding since New Year’s Day. The first thing I noticed is how out of shape I am. All the road riding helps, but on the trails even just pedaling is more difficult.

Part of the North Tower Loop

I also felt stiff for a while, and slow to react to twists and turns in the trail. As I warmed up this got a little better, but I am going to have to work on my flexibility somehow. But overwhelmingly it just felt great to be out, riding on the trails, without the bulk of a jacket. I even saw flowers at some points growing alongside the trail.

It’s a little hard to tell, but in this next shot the trail comes toward you on the left side of the creek, just above the log you see there. Then it swoops around behind you, taking a rock bridge over the creek in a switchback, and spits you out on the right side.

Sweeping trail in the North Tower Loop

It took a little while, but eventually I started riding better. The mountain bike felt more natural, I did a better job of shifting my weight in turns, etc. The sun was low in the sky and casting long shadows. The trail was in good shape except for a few muddy spots.

Long shadows

The creek crossings had water in them, which was great to see. They were dry for most of last year because of the drought.

Creek crossings

I decided to ride the Aynes Loop as well. After a few creek crossings, there’s a really big climb. I made it up the climb without stopping, but it was slow going.

Rocky switchback at the top of the Aynes climb

Hazy hills in the distance

My bicycle

The massive climb pays off nicely, at first with a sketchy, rocky section and then with some great smooth and twisty sections through the woods. You can really fly through most of it and I did so. Traction was great except in one greasy switchback, and I was able to really carve through the turns.

Switchback on the Aynes Loop

After that section there’s some more climbing, and then a wild ride back to the connector trail. I headed back to the North Tower Loop and did the long climb there, then enjoyed the descent back to the parking lot. It was a great first trail ride of the spring. I hope I can get back out there again soon.

On our way home we stopped at Yellowwood State Forest to visit the spot where we’re getting married. The sun was setting and the lake looked beautiful. We definitely chose the right spot.

Yellowwood Lake

She said yes!!!

Monday, February 4th, 2008

The weather was gorgeous here all weekend, with mostly sunny skies and highs in the mid-40s. Yesterday, Sarah and I headed down to Jackson-Washington State Forest to do some hiking. We have gone camping there before and wanted to go hiking, but didn’t have time. With some help from my friend Dave, we decided to hike up Mount Baldy, which apparently has been renamed to the more-redundant “Pinnacle Peak.”

This was a difficult hike, but very beautiful.  It started with a long climb up to where an old observation tower used to be. The trails were quite muddy, so traction was poor and we were slipping and sliding much of the time. I felt like we were doing some damage to the trails but it was too late by the time we figured out how muddy everything was. The climbs were pretty steep and difficult, mostly going straight up the side of the hills rather than winding up gradually like many trails do.

Steep climb


Sarah and Rob standing where the old observation tower once was

Support from the old observation tower

Another observation tower support

Sarah photographing Rob

There was a pretty good view from the observation tower, as it was on top of a big hill. The view was obscured by trees somewhat but you could still see quite a distance.

The observation tower’s remains look almost like a cemetery from below

After reaching the old observation tower, the trail goes steeply downhill and follows a valley for a little bit before beginning and even bigger climb up to Mount Baldy. It was quite challenging, and the mud got worse. We ran into two other groups hikers during this portion of the hike, the only other people we would see all afternoon. It was great to have the whole place basically to ourselves.

Eventually, we reached the top of Mount Baldy. True to its name, it had a rocky surface with few plants growing on it — as well as a fantastic view.

View from Mount Baldy

Another shot of the view

Before Sarah could catch her breath, I hugged and kissed her for a few minutes, then on bended knee, pulled a ring from my pocket and asked “Sarah … will you marry me?” She had no idea this was coming whatsoever — I could see from the look on her face it took a moment for her to process what was going on and realize what I was asking. She was smiling but crying and hugging me and muttered some things, prompting me to ask, “Is that a yes?” She responded with an emphatic “YES!” My heart very nearly jumped from my chest. I knew this would be a great moment, but it was even better than I had envisioned.

The ring I chose has three round-cut stones, the middle one bigger than the other two. It looks even better on Sarah’s finger than it did by itself. The light was perfect for the occasion, the winter sun low in the sky and casting long, beautiful shadows despite being mid-afternoon, and wrapping everything in a warm glow.

The ring


Does she look happy or what?

The trees below us

We spent a long time on Mount Baldy talking about everything and enjoying the scenery and each other’s company. It was amazing to have this beautiful land all to ourselves. The dog got to feeling a big neglected, but he got over it. Eventually we headed back. It was a long trip down the side of this huge hill, but it didn’t take as long as it did on the way up. In part our exuberance made it go by faster.

Sarah and Rob

Looking into the valley below

Another great smile

The trail

Beautiful light

Back at the observation tower

We thought about hiking some more on a trail that connects to this one at the observation tower, but it was getting a bit late in the day and we were tired enough already. We’ll just have to go back soon to hike more of these trails.

Muddy trail
The road back

Our trip back was excellent. We sure have a lot of new things to discuss now. By the end of the day, my face hurt from smiling so much, my ankles hurt from the hiking, and more importantly, Sarah and I felt closer than ever. A great way to feel after a perfect day.

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