While mountain tops and beaches are gorgeous settings to ask someone to make an eternal commitment to you, I preferred something that exemplified our relationship and Chris’ character; something…. unprecedented. Let me tell you, I was not disappointed! And, like any good story, this one involves defecation.
Before I begin, I will tell you: Chris let me know after the ring was (squeezed) onto my finger that it had not gone as he initially planned. In fact, no fewer than 4 of his proposal plans had been thwarted. Storms pushed us off of the tops of the continental divide and Handies peak, and there were too many people on the top of Angel’s Landing. He also considered an ironic proposal in Death Valley, but we opted out of that section.
However, he wanted to ask me before we see my parents at Lake Tahoe, so he only had one day left to ask.
On the way up to Monitor Pass, I was feeling strong and happy. There was a bit of a headwind, but the cool evening air and the intermittent shadows made for a pleasant climb. I even found a heads-up penny!
Oddly, Chris started to fall behind. Typically, he loves long climbs like this and will be far ahead of me. I paused, waiting for him to catch up, and asked him if he was alright.
He said that he was okay, he just had some gastrointestinal issues after another gas station meal.
“I have the toilet paper,” I told him, “Do you want to go dig a hole?”
“No, I’m fine,” he responded, “There’s only sagebrush and a drop-off here; there’s not really a good place to go. I’ll just take it slow.”
I shrugged and got back on my bicycle. After a little while, I looked back and couldn’t even see him. I wondered if he had gone to find a good spot to do his bidness. “DO YOU NEED THE TOILET PAPER?” I yelled down the hill.
No response. I tried a few more times as I waited. Finally, he came back into view. The terrain had flattened out a bit as we neared the top, and there were a few trees on the side of the road now. When he reached me, I again queried as to whether or not he wanted to go dig a hole. No, he insisted; he would hold it.
I remembered how disheartened it had made me feel to see Chris so far ahead of me on tough days, so I decided to be a good bike buddy, and I hung back behind him as we started riding again. He urged me to go ahead, but I said that I didn’t mind going slowly. Painfully slowly.
Little did I know, he did not have to poop at all. He was just trying to unwrap the ring. In his handlebar bag, between the hard material and the cloth lining, it had stayed hidden for the entire trip. It was in a small plastic box that he had wrapped in a bunch of duct tape.
He went so slowly on his bike that I finally couldn’t stand it, and, after an exclamation about how he should just poop, goshdarnit, I went ahead again.
When we finally reached the top, he leaned his bike against the stone pass marker and ran into the woods, calling, “Bring me the toilet paper!”
I did as I had been told and dug in my bag for the toilet paper. I wandered back towards where he had gone, into a pretty little meadow area. There, he was squatting with his bum out. When I was ten feet away, I threw the toilet paper at him and turned to go.
“Wait!” He said.
“What?” I asked.
“Come here for a sec.”
“Why?! You’re pooping!”
“Umm…” He paused; apparently, he couldn’t come up with a good reason to get me over there. “Nevermind.”
I went back out to the road and took a few pictures. He came out, holding some toilet paper in his hand. “I wrapped the dirty paper in clean paper,” he assured me, “So I can just stick it in my bag.”
“Gross, no! I have a plastic bag you can use.”
I handed it to him, and we took a picture of our bikes at the top. The camera died before we could get one of ourselves. The sky was getting dark, so we got on our bikes for the nice long downhill to Markleeville.
Part of the way down, Chris rode up next to me. It was a nice, quiet road so he didn’t have to worry about cars.
Sidenote: throughout the trip, Chris has been playing the juvenile, if-you-love-it-so-much-why-don’t-you-marry-it game. “Rach, do you love that muffin? If you love it so much, why don’t you marry it?” “Rach, do you love this hike? If you love it so much, why don’t you marry it?”
When Chris rode up next to me today, he said, “Rach, I have a game to play with you.”
“Okay,” I said, “What’s your game?”
“Which do you love more, me or this descent?”
I rolled my eyes, expecting him to somehow play some word trick on me. “Which do YOU love more,” I retorted, “Me or this descent?”
“You, of course,” he said.
“Oh,” I said, surprised. He sounded sincere.
“So which do you love more?” He asked again.
“Well, you, of course!”
That’s when, as we rolled down through the golden California forest, he whipped out the ring and held it out towards me: “If you love me so much, why don’t you marry me?!”
I almost fell off of the bike, “Is that real?!” I hollered.
He laughed and confirmed, “Here, let’s pull off. I’ll do this right.”
So he got down on one knee and asked if I would marry him, and I said yes!
Lat: 38.659763, Long: -119.720753
Mile 82.6 of day 90, 5,343 of the trip.
At ~5,821′ elevation