Years ago, he mentioned that I should go hiking and camping with him. “Ryan, you would love the places that I have been too, hiking and camping. You come across waterfalls suddenly and, well, you would need to bring your camera. You would love taking pictures if you went with me… You really should go with me sometime… You would love it.” I remember this quick conversation like it was yesterday and I remember it like it was years ago all at the same time. It did not seem like much of an invitation at the time, it seemed more like a fragment in time that he was making conversation with me. That is all it felt like, a conversation we were having when we did not have a lot of them during that time of his life. He was always leaving unexpectedly to travel to the mountains to hike and camp, by himself.
This person was my brother, and I will always remember that I never got the chance to take those trips with him but his words about them will be with me my entire life. He said the views were breathtaking and that the waterfalls came across unannounced while he backpacked, and well he would stop in his tracks, stand, and marvel at them. Since then, I feel the pull all of the time to be out in nature, whether it is around my hometown or making a few trips a year to the mountains. This has become more important to me every year that goes by. Because of this, finding someone to spend my life with that felt the same way about hiking and the mountains was abundantly important to me. I am so happy that this person was and is Cory, because I could not imagine a better soul and being to spend my life with.
Since meeting Cory we have trekked to mountain peaks, hiked numerous trails, camped in a tent, cooked meals over a fire, almost froze from the cold air one night, have had two flat tires in the middle of nowhere and discovered waterfalls. We have gotten lost and then found our way together. (I never thought that I could love a bright little paint mark on a tree before!) We have come across a field covered in yellow and brown butterflies where a lone blue and black butterfly landed on top of Cory’s head, and rested for a little while. We’ve repeated the words, “wait”, “easy”, “quiet”, to our dogs, that last one was for Foster, more times than I can count! We have reached numerous mountain peaks together and have even hiked through a thunder storm to the top of a mountain before. What happened because of that thunderstorm? Well, it gave us the mountain peak to ourselves and a vibrant rainbow off in the distance trailing behind the storm. I like to think that this is what life is all about, trekking through the storms and the ordinary days to get to the extraordinary and marvelous ones.
I imagine that this was what my brother was trying to say, that this is what he meant, and I am thankful to have that memory of him to instill within me. To live well. To live to the fullest and to continue to search for sights that all I can do is stop to marvel in them.
I relate experiences with the relationships that we have in our lives. This could not be more true for Cory and I’s relationship. During hikes, even though we are constantly looking at our feet and our dogs, making sure not to trip or miss a rock we need to step on, knowing that when the trail widens I will be able to look up and we can walk side by side for a little while. When this happens, I know that my hand will find his and he’ll turn to pause and kiss me.
Just like our hiking, I know that in life, if I ever find myself on a rocky path, that he is right there too. Whenever I get the chance to look up from that path and the trail begins to widen, Cory will be there. When I think of marriage I think of this, two people choosing to walk hand in hand together. Two people encouraging each other to be better, to do better and to love better, just because the other person naturally sparks that inside of them. Marriage is hiking through life together, and Cory’s love has taught me what I want everyone to know what love is truly suppose to be like.
I could not think of a better way to spend the weekend, two years after our first date, than exactly the way we did last weekend! Below, look at the three separate leaves floating in the sky in the photograph of the mountains! Charlie getting extremely dirty in the leaves and dirt! I promise that Foster truly does love me, he didn’t have any expression on his face anytime the camera came out this past weekend! Crabtree Falls was our second hike, the next day! We also spent the first part of our weekend taking our Engagement Photographs with our wedding photographer, Erika Mills. I will be sure to blog those, most likely along with another sappy letter to Cory! I hope you enjoyed taking a look at our hiking trip and if you get the chance stay at Wintergreen and hike the trails right on the mountain there, then reward yourself at the breweries at the bottom of the mountain!