You can’t make this stuff up. I recently read a story that took place the beginning of this month that caught my eye for its combination of romance and lack of judgment.
A young man from Texas decides he wants to give his beloved a marriage proposal she’ll never forget. His passion leads him to plan a trip to the Indian Peaks Wilderness to climb Jasper Peak where he will pop the question.
Jasper Peak is not a peak that most Coloradans know of, much less have climbed. It’s not a Fourteener, and doesn’t even quite make Thirteener status at 12, 923 feet. Trip reports online describe the route as challenging and difficult to follow.
The supposed reason for choosing Jasper Peak — he wanted to stage his proposal in a “place away from other people.”
What could possibly go wrong?
Well, the fact that they came from the flatlands of Denton, Texas with little time to acclimatize probably didn’t help. Oh, and then there was the part where they planned a 16.5-mile round trip hike that climbed 3,000 feet without bringing extra food, extra water, or extra clothes.
Back when I grew up as a kid with no cell phones or GPS, hikers used to preach the importance of the ten essentials. Extra food, first aid kit, sunglasses/sunscreen, matches, map, compass, extra clothes, flashlight, knife, fire starter. The idea behind the ten essentials was that if need be, you could survive the night out in the wilderness, and attract help for a rescue.
Oh, they made it all right to the peak and the proposal went off without a hitch. But like most mountaineering stories that go terribly wrong, the descent proved their undoing. As the sun disappeared, and darkness set in, they became disoriented and got “cliffed out.” Unable to go down or go up, they began to scream for help.
Though this story could have easily ended in tragedy, it didn’t. Fortunately for them, a backcountry camper heard their cries and located them. Weak and dehydrated, they were able to follow the Good Samaritan back to camp. Another camper walks all the way back to the trail head in the middle of the night to call for help.
Early the next morning, rescuers led the young couple out to safety. I guess the brush with death didn’t deter the bride-to-be.
I wish I could say this was a unique story in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Every year, stories similar to this one appear in the local newspapers. People are lured to the high peaks, but don’t take the time to pick adventures suitable to their level of experience.
My mantra each year– don’t be one of them.