Life Partner vs. Adventure Partner

For most of us, finding a person that we want to spend the rest of our lives with is a big deal (that’s right Ashley—life, not eternity). For those of us truly blessed, that same person is also someone to share a rope with, huddle in a tent with, summit mountains with, run with, hike with, and bike with. In general, that person is someone who shares the same the silly need to explore, adventure, and test oneself in the outdoors. I am lucky to have found that someone.

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In front of Mount Shasta

Looking at back at my relationship with my by-the-time-I-publish-this wife, our life together has been built on exploring the outdoors. We first met while working in an outdoor shop, and quickly bonded over climbing and watching internet cat videos. Long before we ever considered dating, we went ice climbing together (a trip that her father still harasses me about for building my anchors with very thin spectra cord, helping me earn the nickname “Shoelace”). While most standard dates consist of the traditional dinner and a movie, Ashley and I went rock climbing before or after work at the local crag or the rock gym.

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Summit of Mount Tripyramid

For our first Christmas together I bought her a plane ticket to Alabama, anxious to share with her the incredible climbing community and sandstone boulders of the southeast. If her father didn’t think I was crazy after looking at my dental-floss anchor, the romantic gift of a plane ticket to Birmingham, Alabama, may have seeded his doubts. For her birthday our first year dating, I drove her to the New River Gorge in West Virginia, where we bailed off of more climbs than we finished, and didn’t care because the swimming, deep water soloing, and biscuits and gravy were more than enough to keep us happy.

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Climbing at the Red River Gorge

After dating for a few years, Ashley quit her job to join me for a summer of running Eastern Mountain Sports Outdoor Demo Tours. For three months on the Demo Tour we lived out of the back of a truck while running, biking, hiking, climbing, and paddling our way from Annapolis, Maryland to Burlington, Vermont. We got muddy, sweaty, tired, frustrated, and at times annoyed with one another, but living in those crazy conditions also brought us closer while cementing a mutual love of adventure, setting the tone for future adventures. In the spirit of type-two fun, we did the Demo Tour again the following year.

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Deep water soloing with $1 floaties from Walmart at the New River Gorge

Everyone has a story about the time they realized that their significant other was “the one.” While I think I knew she was “the one” all along, she secured her position as “the one” on a trip to California to climb Mount Shasta. After making a navigational mistake that led to a 15-hour epic on the mountain and a failure to reach the summit, she rallied a day later to reclimb the mountain and summit in good style. Not only did she summit a 14,000 thousand-foot peak on that trip, but she also hung with my two hyper-motivated climbing partners while proving herself as capable as anyone in the mountains. The day following Mount Shasta, I felt compelled to propose while we explored Lassen National Volcanic Park.

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Eldorado Canyon, Colorado

I couldn’t be more excited about marrying this girl, and I look forward to a lifetime of sharing adventures with her. Going through old photos to attach to this blog, I realized that we have been lucky to have gone to so many places and done so many things…and fortunately for us, there’s still so much more left to explore.

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