Popping the question: she said yes!

(Click on the first photo and scroll through with your arrow keys for best viewing)

The government shutdown wasn’t going to shut down these plans of mine.

I made the decision to propose to Cathryn a little while ago. We had a weekend trip to Helen, Ga. planned, and it turned into an opportunity to ask my girlfriend of two years to marry me with her best friend, Liz, and best friend’s boyfriend, Wes, joining us for the special event.

I decided a hike on a picturesque trail would be a nice way to make it happen. Plus, I figured we should have a nice backdrop if we had photographers along for the weekend.

The Hike

We chose Dukes Creek Falls Trail for our hike, which was about 15 minutes from Helen. I assumed the park wouldn’t be open because of the government shutdown, but since it was fairly close to our weekend condo, I knew it wouldn’t be too inconvenient to give it a try.

As we drove up the mountain, there was one point where we got a breathtaking view of the Appalachians on the side of a winding road. I noted that spot in my memory so I’d have a place to propose in case the trail wasn’t proposal-friendly.

When we made it to the park, I was shocked to find no barricades and no gates closing off the parking lot despite the government shutdown. So we got out of the car and began hiking 1.1 miles to the falls.

Not exactly what we planned

I thought the hike would be up a hill, showing us beautiful views of huge mountains, which would give me plenty of chances to propose.

Nuh uh.

The hike was actually down into a valley, where the waterfalls cascaded down into a stream that cut between the mountains. There were no views. It was just more than a mile of downhill trails that led to the falls.

When we finally got there …

The best overlook of the falls was a deck lined with yellow caution tape because much of the wood was destroyed. It appeared to have been kicked in by someone who was clearly underwhelmed by the view. So that spot was a no-go for the proposal. I towed Liz and Wes around on several of the decks at this observation area, seeking out a decent spot to ask Cat to marry me.

We went down a flight of stairs to the deck that was lowest to the creek and I held our group there until an older couple stopped taking pictures and vacated the deck. Then, I figured, we would have the spot to ourselves and I could have a special moment with my girlfriend. They finally left, and as I turned around to see if Liz and Wes were ready to take pictures, another pair started down the stairs and began to invade our space.

This thing just isn’t meant to happen, I thought to myself.

But Wes acted quickly and asked the couple to leave the area, to which they thankfully obliged, and I got down on one knee.

When the moment finally came …

I’m happy to report Cat said “yes” when I asked her to marry me, and I managed to arrange the entire event and carry the ring in my pocket throughout a 1.1-mile hike without dropping it. I checked my pocket every 30 seconds to make sure the ring hadn’t fallen out.

I’ve seen pictures of other people proposing during hikes, and one thing I never considered was the endured nervousness of such a proposal. The hike lasted about 20 minutes each way, but it seemed like forever. It takes a lot of poise to pretend there’s not going to be a proposal at the end of the trail. A lot.

Queen my dishes, Ryan Gosling.

In the end, it went off without a hitch. And I’m happy to announce we’re planning a wedding for some time in the summer of 2014.

Some people come back from Oktoberfest with a hangover, but I came back with a fiancé.

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