Drawn to the Mountains

A naturally ideal location to pop the question

“Virginia is for Lovers” reads the motto, and I am a lover of its mountains. Even during the winter when there are chilly winds, sleet, snow and ice I am irresistibly drawn to them. As the great naturalist John Muir said, “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.”

And climb the mountains is exactly what a dozen Boots ‘n Beer hikers did a couple of days before 2018 announced its welcome. Despite a dusting of snow followed by a frigid arctic blast, we climbed 2,600 feet up Buck Hollow to Mary’s Rock in the Shenandoah National Park in memory of one of our late hikers and to get the mountains’ good tidings for the New Year. After several hours of physical exertion, nature’s peace (mixed with a little yeast, hops, grain and water) poured like sunshine into our thirsty souls at Griffin Tavern.

As each year passes I see more and more people drawn, as I have been, to the mountains to receive the good tidings of nature’s immense beauty, renewal, and peace. More individual hikers, more families, and more couples. I’ve even read there are some new trends for couples utilizing the scenery as proposal and wedding locations; no glamorous engagement parties and wedding ceremonies just simple, meaningful nature-inspired events and decor by Mother Nature. I give a thumbs up to this idea as I’ve seen quite a few sites in the Shenandoah and Appalachian Mountains which would make spectacular proposal settings.

The first one that instantly comes to my mind is Virginia’s McAfee’s Knob, the most iconic rock on the Appalachian Trail. No one can approach the site without being awestruck by the majesty of its breathtaking panoramic view. Many a thru-hiker has chosen this memorable spot to propose; combined with an early morning sunrise I can’t think of anything more perfect. In fact, thru-hikers, Nate and Sharon, have posted a short video of their proposal on McAfee’s summit on thetrek.co/appalachian-trail which is heartwarming to watch.

For local hikers, Old Rag Mountain in the Shenandoah National Park is a favorite destination which many couples call their own. I’m sure this high outcropping of rock with its sweeping views has seen more than one young man get down on his knee and open a small box to make a surprised young lady very happy. If close friends suddenly appear from behind Old Rag’s big boulders with bottles of champagne, that would be the celebratory hike of a lifetime!

If you love lying together under the stars dreaming of and being grateful for life’s possibilities, consider a quiet camping trip to one of our mountain’s high plateaus, such as the one in the Dolly Sods Wilderness on the eastern side of the Allegheny Mountains. This plateau is the highest east of the Mississippi River, and at night the sky’s stars appear more numerous, luminous, and closer than you can imagine. It is an ideal spot to ask your beloved to share life with you; you feel the invitation of this grand canopy of stars above you bearing witness, guiding your life together, and helping to make your dreams come true.

For whatever reason couples are drawn to the mountains – recreation or simple enjoyment – its beauty and repose will provide a sentimental spot which has meaning and would be a natural choice for asking the big question. Every season provides us endless options  – a dazzling array of waterfalls, cliffs, and overlooks – to choose a location that is as beautiful as the special moment.

About one and a half years ago, my own son made the choice to propose and surprised me with a short email that simply stated “She accepted!” Their picture told the story. He was living in Boston at the time, but was on vacation in Colorado. He selected that time – in Colorado’s impressively high mountains as the setting – to ask his girlfriend for her hand in marriage.

A year later another surprise arrived from him – an email invitation to their destination wedding on the seashore in Mexico this February. As much as I love the mountains, even in the roughest of winters, this year I can think of no better way to appreciate Old Man Winter than by enjoying sunshine and snorkeling, as well as drinking tequila and fresh pineapple juice in the warmth of Mexico’s seashore. All in a grand celebration of a proposal made in the mountains.


Image: “My husband proposed to me on Day 60 of our 2015 Appalachian Trail (AT) thru-hike at McAfee Knob near Catawba, Virginia. We woke up early to watch the sunrise at this iconic AT landmark and he completely surprised me!” ~ Sharon Harrington. You can read her version of the proposal story and see the video on www.thetrek.com or view a video log “To Katahdin” on YouTube.

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