Ash + Drew’s Angel’s Landing Proposal
I’ve anticipated this post for awhile, and am excited to finally share it now that all the pieces have come together to let me. As many of you know, I took a trip out West with my dad this summer to see the some of the National Parks. It was a good break, both mentally and photography-wise, since my primary subjects would be a bunch of rocks, rather than people.
Well, as fate would have it, my dad and I hiked straight into a couple’s proposal at the top of Angel’s Landing. So it seems that matter where I go, weddings seem to follow me. I told them I was a Philadelphia wedding photographer, and asked if they wanted me to take some proposal pictures to commemorate the moment, and they gladly took up the offer.
Now before we continue, let me do some explaining about Angel’s Landing for those who aren’t familiar with it: Angel’s Landing is a famous rock formation in the middle of Zion National Park, which requires some ridiculously steep miles of hiking (including 21 horrid, awful, terrible, no-good switchbacks), and culminates in a half-mile of jokeably narrow (two foot wide) paths with 1,500ft. dropoffs on either side, requiring lots of scrambling and some very careful footwork. As I learned, there’s no camera bag light enough, boot grippy enough, Nalgene bottle voluminous enough, or shade-providing cloud big enough for the hike. There’s a reason it holds the title for having the most casualties in the National Park system (yikes!)
I mean, seriously people. That’s a big rock. Anyway, back to our couple – without further ado, allow me to introduce Ash + Drew!
Let’s start with a bit of background about the two: they’re both actively serving in the military – Drew in the Army, Ash in the Air Force. They’ve known each other for about ten years, but didn’t start dating until 2013. Drew told me “Over the years, Ash and I had always known each other and felt that we had a unique connection – but, like ships passing in the night – never really acted on it, for one reason or another.” So in 2013, they finally started dating. They grew close for a number of reasons, one of them being for a mutual love for exploration and nature (see where this is going?).
In April, Drew started thinking about how he’d propose to Ash, and when he saw they’d be traveling to Southern California for family, a side trip to Zion was planned – “the trap was set!”. Ash was set to go on an out-of-state active duty training cycle the following weekend, and Drew knew he wouldn’t see her for seven months. When the hike up to Angel’s Landing was proposed, Ash was apprehensive (come on, who wouldn’t be? The hike is nuts). On the couple’s last day in Zion, they went for it and began the trek to the top.
“The whole time I was nervous and holding her hand as we made our way up. As we reached the top we took a moment to take it in, and took each other in. We embraced, and kissed, and rejoiced. It was our perfect culmination to a fateful trip that has since made us inseparable. ”
Drew got down on two knees (yes, two knees. Apparently there’s a back story involving the couple and a broken kneecap? It sounded painful, and I wasn’t going to ask for details), and popped the question. Drew knew Ash wanted an antique ring, so when she excitedly said “Yes!”, he put his grandmother’s ring on her finger. The ring has now traveled three generations, including Drew’s mother. Call me a sentimental fool but I think that’s positively adorable.
After heading back down the trail and those 21 ridiculous switchbacks, Ash + Drew drove through four states – Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and California – including an airborne state-line-crossing into AZ (“Dukes of Hazzard style”), an obligatory stop in Las Vegas, and falling asleep to the sound of the ocean on Huntington Beach, California.
“As the great warrior poet Ice Cube once said: ‘Today was a good day!‘”