Our story began on a squishy car ride along the coast of California. I have always been one who is up for adventure, especially when it involves anything outdoors. When I was asked by a guy friend of mine if I had any plans for Labor day, after he said the words 20 mile backpacking trip along the coast of California, he didn’t have to say anything more, I was in for sure. I had no vacation days left at work but I was bound and determined to figure out a way to make it happen. There was no way I was going to miss this opportunity, and how big or attractive of an opportunity it would turn out to be, I had no idea at the time!
Rob was a tall, tan mix of curiosity and a wealth of knowledge who had just returned from a 4 month solo backpacking trip through Asia. I had heard that someone was bringing his cousin who had just returned from a 3 or 4 backpacking trip, but I hadn’t thought much about it, other than I thought it was cool he had done a lot of traveling. But after briefly meeting Rob, I was quickly much more interested in learning more about Asia for obvious reasons. 🙂
Rob was driving for the first hour of the trip and then he and Layne switched places and Rob was smashed into the back seat between me and Kaitlyn. I surely wasn’t complaining. A few minutes after we began speeding up the windy narrow road towards camp, I began asking Rob questions about his travels; what he ate, what the scenery was like, how the people lived and supported themselves, what transportation was like, how many countries he visited, etc. He answered each question with thoughtfulness and enthusiasm. I was rapidly drawn in by his handsome face, dark hair, gorgeous brownish-green eyes, and his intoxicating smile. I listened to him talk until we arrived at camp (Usal Beach) around 5:30 am. I was intrigued by him before he even knew my name. He was charming without even trying.
About 5 hours later our small band of 9 began hiking the lost coast trail. We hiked about 10 miles up and down the lush mountain side trails that Friday and then set up camp at a secluded beach called Little Jackass in the evening; we were literally sleeping about 100 feet from the Pacific Ocean. It was absolutely gorgeous! Rob and I talked a little more that day, but not a ton.
Saturday morning Rob’s cousin Justin and friend Layne had decided they were going to get an earlier start on the trail than the rest of the group and invited Rob and I to come along. I thought it would be fun to hike with these guys because I had gotten to know them a little on Friday and wanted to get to know them better. They were fun to be around and easy to talk to. Justin and Layne left before Rob and I had finished packing up our things (strategic planning on Justin’s part), so we had to make up a little time to catch up to them after we left camp. There was a very steep hill with what seemed like never ending switchbacks climbing about 1250 vertical feet right outside of Little Jack Ass beach. Rob and I moved steadily up this arduous 1 mile climb, attempting to make conversation on our frequent short breaks, but we were so out of breath, we needed every break just to catch our breath! Rob didn’t seem to be struggling to catch his breath as much as I was, so not wanting to look out of shape, I tried not to breathe very loudly as we ascended, but that was almost impossible to do. I finally gave up trying to quiet my breathing when I started getting light headed, and would wait to respond to his questions until we took breaks to rest. It was a good experience to have with him, because even something small like that taught me about his personality and his character. He was very relaxed, easy-going, and patient as we made our way slowly up the switchbacks. We got to know each other better as we struggled to ascend to the top of this beast of a mountain. I think you learn more about people on a very personal level more quickly out on the trail than you do in any other way. It let me see Rob in a very personal and positive light. I liked what I saw. 🙂
That night, Justin, Rob, and I took the opportunity to star gaze up on a small ridge right by the Ocean at our new campsite in Bear Harbor. The stars were stunning! We stayed up for a while visiting, laughing about things that had happened during the course of the day, and taking in the gorgeous scene around us.
We had hike about 9 miles Saturday. Rob and Justin slept in their hammocks each night. They had to find trees that were strong enough and the right distance apart in order to hang them and for them to support their weight throughout the night. I was sharing a tent with my friend. After a long day of hiking, even though our campsites were really windy, being only about 150 feet from the Ocean, we all slept well that night.
Sunday morning we packed up and headed out, last day on the trail. The last 3 miles were pretty mild terrain compared to the two days previous. We were hiking on trail or road the entire way out. It was more a leisure Sunday morning walk. Our packs were no longer as heavy because we had eaten most of our food by that point. Rob had slowed down some and waited for me behind the group a little bit. I was lagging behind because I kept stopping to take pictures and to watch the Ocean for whales. We hiked together the majority of those 3 miles. He was so easy to talk to, easy to be myself around. I enjoyed his company.
When we got to Taylor’s truck, we counted the miles and realized we had hiked 22 miles over those 3 days! It truly was an amazing experience; absolutely gorgeous location, great hike, and awesome people. Those that could fit piled into Taylor’s truck and then the rest of us (Justin, Layne, Rob, and I) crawled into the back of the truck with everyone’s gear. After hiking, sweating, and not showering for three days, I’m pretty sure we go the upper hand sitting in the back rather than in an enclosed space with all of those bodies! Sitting in the back, we didn’t even notice our own body odor 🙂
After driving for about 2 hours, my hair something to de desired, and faces chapped from wind burn, we stopped at a little corner store near where the other car was parked. A few of us stayed at the store while the rest of the gang drove to get the other car; about another hour or so drive round trip. Rob and Justin brought their hammocks of course and found a great spot behind the store in the trees to hang their hammocks. I went back behind the store to see their sweet little set up and to try out the hammocks for myself. I had never seen or laid in a nylon hammock before. Rob had gone to the bathroom so I laid down in his hammock to see how comfortable it was for myself. It was super comfy! I was ready for a nap after that. When I saw that Rob had come back from the bathroom, I sat up quickly and got ready to move out of his way so he could lie down; but before I could get out, he looked at me and said assuredly, “there’s room for two.” I was pleasantly surprised by his invitation. He came over and sat down next to me and we laid down, his arm behind my neck, our bodies only slightly touching. I felt my heart flutter a little. As we got comfortable in his little hammock, a slight breeze blowing, the hammock slowly rocking in the wind, our heads leaded against one another and we fell asleep together. I felt safe. Best nap I had ever had. 🙂
That night we drove part of the way back to Salk Lake and stayed at a campsite near Lake Spaulding. We got in pretty late so we set up our tents in the dark, using only a few headlamps. Although it was dark, we could tell it was a beautiful area. Tons of tall trees and lots of shade cover. A few of us gathered wood and we had a small fire before going to bed. I invited whoever wanted to wake up early Monday morning with me to go on a short sunrise hike for Labor Day. It is a family tradition of mine that I had been doing with friends since I moved out on my own and I wanted to carry it on. Justin and Rob were all for it! Rob set his alarm for 6am.
The next morning Rob woke me up by moving the tent and waiting for movement. I put my shoes on and crawled out of the tent. I didn’t even have to see myself to know how stunningly attractive I was looking, going on 4 days without a shower and no make-up. I looked at Rob as I crawled out of the tent, and his hair was looking almost as sexy as mine! I was glad to be in good company; no pretense, just us being us and enjoying being outside together. Justin had decided not to come on the hike with us, so we headed out on our adventure together, just the two of us.
We thought the lake was a decent distance away, but our hiking adventure turned out to be much shorter than anticipated when we discovered that the lake was less than half a mile from our campsite. Rob and I meandered down the road lined by tall pine trees until we came to the lake. We found a thick log to sit on and made ourselves comfortable as we waited for the sun to rise. It was so peaceful out by the lake; nobody but us to be seen or heard. Gave us a great chance to talk and get to know each other better. I knew that I was looking and probably not smelling the best, but just the way he looked me in the eyes as we talked, I could see how real, how genuine he was. We didn’t even really get to see the sunrise, because of the mountains and the clouds that were covering it, but waking up early and spending that little bit of time together was so worth it in my opinion. The more I talked to Rob, the more interested I became in getting to know more of him.
We returned to the group and packed up camp. Discussion took place about going out to breakfast on the way back to Salt Lake. Part of the group wanted to go out and the other part of the group wanted to head straight back without stopping. Justin said he needed to get home, so he and I switched vehicles; Rob and I got squished next to each other a few hours into the drive home. I was not complaining about it one bit. 🙂 We talked almost the entire 9 hour drive home. He showed me pictures and told me stories about his travels in Asia for hours. I loved every minute of it. I learned so much from hearing his experiences and I wanted to hear more. I had never really wanted to go to China, but after hearing his stories and the seeing pictures of all of the amazing places he visited, I developed a strong interest in China. I would love to go there someday; maybe even live there for a few years. And the fact that he was the one telling me the stories, might have made those countries more attractive to me too, just maybe. 😉
We stopped at a McDonalds in California on our way back. Rob and I both got chocolate dipped cones and they were so delicious! As silly as it is, we bonded over those cones. When we arrived at Taylor’s house in Millcreek (Salt Lake), Rob and Layne both got out of the car to help me with my things. Rob helped me to my car with my backpack, making small talk about my Jetta. I was hoping he would ask for my number, but at that point, I really wasn’t sure if he would and there was no way in heck I was going to ask for his number. I knew that if he thought I was worth it he would man up and ask for my number. He casually said he had had fun this weekend and that we should go hiking sometime, and then asked for my number. He definitely waited until the very last possible second to ask, but I talking to his family later about the fact that he even asked for my number, I was impressed with him, because he rarely ever asked for girls’ phone numbers. I think he saw something good in me… or I got really really lucky! 🙂 Either way, that trip was the beginning to a beautiful relationship.
It wasn’t hard for me to fall for Rob. I hadn’t been looking for someone to date. I had given the whole idea of dating or getting married to the Lord and moved forward with my life. I had been dating for many years, had more heartbreaks than I care to re-count, and had come to be happy and accept my life as a single woman with the idea that I would rather be happily single then have to keep enduring heartbreak after heartbreak with the same end result, but he came along at just the right time and became the best unexpected friend I will ever have.