Montana, Day 1: Engagement

Distance: 1.9 Miles
Elevation Gained: 600′
Difficulty: Moderate
Time: 0:47:00
Critters: None

– I’m engaged to be married to Kelly Clifton
– Nice hiking right across the street

– Steep!


Obviously, very little about this particular blog will have anything to do with hiking. On the first day in Montana, I proposed to Kelly Clifton while we lingered on the deck in the evening hours, following a delicious meal courtesy of Dave and Doreen Clifton. Kelly had told me that her favorite place in Montana is the deck that sits over the Gallatin River in the back yard of the cabin, which the Clifton family rents out for two weeks every year.

I had spent a lot of time thinking about contriving some kind of surprise that she would remember all her life, since that’s what you do when you’re asking somebody to marry you. I guess. I guess because it all boiled down to the fact that the ring was burning a hole in my pocket, and I had waited long enough to propose. She was standing on one of her favorite spots in one of her favorite places next to the person whom Kelly says is her favorite (me). I figured I can’t do much better than that.

So, I got down on one knee, told her how much I love her, and asked her to marry me. She said something to the effect of, “You bet your ass I will.” Then, there was much jumping up and down, much texting and calling of family and friends, many pictures taken to preserve the moment, and somewhere in there, a bunch of champagne was consumed. It was a lovely night, and a great way to start off the trip.

There are no dates or venues set, no lists of people to invite, no grand ideas for a thousand doves to burst out of a wedding cake the diameter of a Sequoia tree. Sometime next summer, we will be married. But for now, we’re going to enjoy the first and only time in both of our lives where we are engaged. From now on, everybody we meet will know us as engaged or as man and wife, and that’s pretty cool.

There was a hike in there too, although it very much pales in comparison to the proposal. Across the street from the cabin, there’s a snowmobile trail that heads from the road straight up 500 feet in a little less than 3/4’s of a mile. From there, you come to a meadow where you can get a nice partial view of the Gallatin Mountains and Gallatin Canyon. By Southern California standards, this is lush mountain paradise. By Montana standards, this is just another patch of forest on a hillside in a vast, open land.

I knew there would be much more to come.

July: 1.9 Miles
Year-to-Date: 756.3 Miles

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