Sunday, July 19, 2020

Living intensely still

I thought about backing out. A 5:30 a.m. alarm jolted me back to semi-rigid legs, lips parched to the point of blistering, and shoulders aching from 130 miles of rough, high-altitude cycling. Beat had an ambitious plan for Sunday, the full extent of which I didn't know until I returned from a 98-degree pedal into Eagle and drive home while consuming 100 ounces of icy liquid and never once needing to stop to pee. I still felt like a sun-dried tomato. 

Beat recounted his plan, ascending 4,000 feet to a 13,300-foot summit, scrambling and boulder-hopping along a narrow spine to another 13er, descending a long boulder field to a reservoir, then more climbing, more descending, and a jog over to Beat's latest sanctuary: a gorgeous and relatively hidden high alpine lake. All in all, it was a big circumnavigation of a mountain that has been a favorite since we moved to Colorado, James Peak.

"That's going to go long," I replied. "Maybe past dark." 

He punched the plan into Strava's route builder. "No, it's only 23 miles. 9,000 feet of climbing. Just 7,000 feet if we skip Ute Trail and go through Tolland instead." 

The large parking lot surrounding Moffat Tunnel was nearly full at 8 a.m., setting the stage for a furious march out of the gate. Beat dislikes crowds. So do I, but they're hard to escape when it's a beautiful weekend morning in mid-July. I was ready to settle into the stream of humans for the privilege of moving slowly on tender legs. But Beat just wanted to put distance on everyone. He charged ahead, while I stumbled, faltered, and tried to keep up.

When people ask when, where and how Beat and I met, it can be a simple story. "July 2010. Columbia Falls, Montana. He was the only runner smiling at the finish of the Swan Crest 100." That was my first impression of Beat — he seemed deliriously happy for someone who had just emerged from a brutal beatdown in the Northern Rockies. I was a volunteer checking runners in at the finish line, and most of their demeanors ranged from nonplussed to shell-shocked. Beat alone was grinning from ear to ear. We struck up a short conversation. I told him I was an endurance cyclist but not remotely a runner. 

"You could run a 100-miler. You could do it next week!" he encouraged me. "In fact, I'm running another one next Saturday. You should come!" 

Beat charged hard the entire climb to James Peak. He stopped to wait for me at frequent intervals, at times playfully admonishing my slowness. He teased me about overdoing it on my bike trip, while I insisted that I was just naturally slower in the mountains, this was the best I was ever going to be, and after a decade, he really should know this by now. He stayed cheerful, but I was becoming frustrated and surly. The sun was fearsome at this altitude, and my breathing had become somewhat strained. I was pushing myself too hard, but it was difficult to pull back.

Our early courtship can't be condensed into a simple story. I was settling into my relatively new life in Montana after abruptly abandoning Alaska, and training for Trans Rockies, a mountain bike stage race. Beat, as I first described him on my blog, was "a Swiss-German software developer who works for Google and lives in the Bay Area — as in California. In his free time, he invents things, like a satellite-enabled remote control for his espresso maker so he can fire up the machine from a half-hour away. He also runs. A lot. He's completed seven 100-milers this year alone, eight if you count his last race twice. That one was more than 200 miles."

That race was the first annual Tor des Geants in Courmayuer, Italy. He mentioned it briefly when we met in late July. I was so struck by our first conversation that I guessed his name (which I had forgotten) from a list of Swan Crest 100 finishers and looked him up on Facebook. The first post I saw from him was a disgusting photo of his mangled feet going into the Headlands 100, which was his followup race to Swan Crest. We struck up an online conversation that evolved over the next few weeks. At one point, I asked him why he felt compelled to endure all of this abuse, month after month.

"I just want to experience the intensity of life," he wrote. 

In my 30-year-old, single, newly independent life in Montana, I realized this was also everything I wanted — to spend my short time on Earth riding the highest waves, to battle the troughs of hardship and drink deeply from crests of joy. Truly, I didn't want to float along in comfort and security. The hard edge is where life sparkled. 

Beat urged me to come run with him. He proposed the Bear 100 in Utah as a meeting place, less than a week after he was set to return from the Tor des Geants. The 200-mile race over the giant mountains of the Italian Alps sounded like the most intense experience imaginable — with the exception of the Alaska winter races I'd been talking up for as long as Beat had tried to sell me on trail running. There was no way he could run another 100-miler after TDG. I didn't believe him for a second, and made no real plans to join him as his pacer. Anyway, I was going to be away in Las Vegas at a bicycle retail convention until the weekend. Everything about the proposal was impossible. 

At the top of James Peak, Beat asked me how I was feeling. "Okay enough," I said. "I can probably handle Bancroft." Mount Bancroft is the next peak in this James group, at the crest of the Continental Divide. If you take a tumble while picking your way along the ridge, your blood could trickle toward the Atlantic or the Pacific, depending on where you landed. I've been intrigued by this line but intimidated by the committing terrain. James to Bancroft sounded doable enough. If it was still 2010, I'd have jumped at the opportunity without a second thought, but a decade of bruises and torn ligaments have made me leery. I scoured the Internet for photos, observed the boulder field, the shark teeth rock formations, the chokehold that supposedly held a few class three moves. Honestly, it was all straightforward and not that hard. But factor in fatigue and recent struggles with proprioception, and the traverse proved challenging.

Beat called me from his hotel room in Logan, Utah. Hearing his voice came as a small shock — both because it was our first phone conversation and because he was actually in Utah. I was still at a hotel in Las Vegas. My work at the Interbike was mostly done, but since I'd ridden down from Montana in a van with co-workers, I had no way to leave early. It was Thursday night. The race started early the next morning. Beat wondered if I could meet him at the mile 52 checkpoint by early evening. 

"Well," I replied. "Hmmm."

I asked him how he was feeling after the Tor des Geants, which he finished in a shell-shocked heap after five days on five hours of sleep, just days earlier. 

"Oh, you know," he said. His voice sounded quiet and a little defeated. We hung up. I looked up flights to Salt Lake. Nothing arrived in time. I looked up one-way car rentals — that was crazy expensive. I popped back on Facebook to message Beat — less painful than making a bad-news call — and saw a status update from a friend in Los Angeles, posted the previous day. "Trying to prepare myself mentally for my nonstop drive to Salt Lake in two days." That would be ... Friday. I messaged my friend. 

"My son has this dental appointment. I have to leave crazy early. But I could pick you up in Vegas at 5."

"Perfect," I replied. 

Beat and I picked our way down the south ridge of James. As is typical on the Divide, it was a jumble of car-sized boulders that were barely anchored in place. I teetered precariously, testing whether each step could hold my weight. Beat scouted a line and then pointed out a better one if he had any trouble. When we arrived at the shark teeth, he navigated a tricky downclimb, then directed my hands and feet toward solid holds as I shimmed down backward. He was kind and patient, not at all in the hurry he'd seemed to be in earlier. My frustration dissolved in a potent mixture of gratitude and trepidation.

My ride was late, but miraculously he showed up, pulling up to a random hotel in Vegas in the predawn darkness of 5:30 a.m. Because his son was late for his dental appointment in Salt Lake, he had to drop me off at an I-15 offramp, about two miles from my parents' house. They were gone that week, on vacation in Germany. So I shouldered my large duffle bag and hoofed up the hill. I broke into their house by scaling the fence and rummaging for the secret key in the garage, then rifled through the front closet for running gear: Dad's jacket, some cotton gloves, a knit beanie, bedazzled sunglasses that probably belonged to my baby sister. At least I had my own shoes. They were cheap white trainers for running on a hotel elliptical machine, but they'd work. My training, thus far, had amounted to one four-mile run and one eight-mile run. I was heading to the northern Utah mountains in late September with the most basic gear imaginable. My hydration was a cheap book-bag type of backpack holding plastic water bottles and snacks from a gas station. I found the spare key to "borrow" my dad's truck for the drive to Logan. I was as ready as I was ever going to be. 

After nearly three hours of rush-hour traffic with a stop at a gas station to buy the aforementioned water and snacks, along with REI to buy a headlamp and some reasonable socks, I pulled into Tony Grove in the late evening. The mile-52 checkpoint was staged in a granite amphitheater high in Logan Canyon. The rock walls were lined with aspen and bathed in the golden light of sunset. Beat had been carrying a SPOT tracker, but since this was the age before I owned a smartphone, I hadn't checked his status all day. I had no idea where he was, when he'd arrive, or whether he'd already passed through. And yet, as soon as I exited the truck, I saw his tell-tale smile flash from a large group of runners crowded around a table. I walked up to him, still wearing my jeans and a hoodie. 

"Well," he said sternly. "Are you running?"

"Uh," I stammered. "Uhhh." We hadn't made any sort of plan. I thought I'd meet him here and figure out where to start pacing him. We were at this point 50 miles and untold climbs and descents from the finish line. If I started running here, where would I end up?"

Another man, who I didn't know but would later learn was Beat's friend Harry, turned to me and said, "You know he came all this way for you." 

"Uh," I stammered again. "Give me five minutes to change my clothes." 

Beat and I reached the low point on the ridge and ascended a tundra ramp to Bancroft. Gray clouds billowed overhead, growing darker but not yet threatening. We scrambled up a steep talus slope to reach the broad summit. James had been crowded with hikers, but Bancroft was abandoned and silent, save for the shrill chirps of pika. I walked around taking a few photos as Beat sat next to a rock wall. The wind was stiff but not yet howling, and there was a chill to the air that felt more refreshing than biting. I pressed against Beat's shoulder as I sidled into the small wind shelter, pulled out a sandwich in a Tupperware container, and took a large bite. My mouth was full when Beat turned to me with a crooked smile. 

His eyes were watery and his voice cracked a little. "There's never really a right way to do this." He reached into his pack and pulled out a rock, a kind of quartz stone similar in size and color to one I first held in my hands ten years ago. "So do you want to get married?"

I gulped hard to push down the sandwich. I didn't want to ruin the moment like I sort of did the first time. "Yes," I spoke as clearly as possible. A cascade of tears filled my eyes. "Of course I do."

Together we ran into the darkness. We talked about particle physics and adventure cycling. We talked about Alaska and dreams for the future. The miles disappeared underneath my feet, and Beat ran as though all of the fatigue of past efforts didn't matter at all. Each mile came to us in a dream, as fresh and new as the previous. We reached a high point on the Bear 100 course, near 10,000 feet, somewhere around mile 75 and sometime in the middle of the night. Beat pulled a golf-ball-sized rock from his pack, shale with veins of quartz. 

"It's from TDG," he explained. "I picked it up on the second pass and carried it the whole way." 

I took the rock and cradled it in my palm, filled with warm-fuzziness. As a kid I was always picking up pretty rocks, carrying them home and stowing them in the bottom drawer of my dresser. How did he know?

Beat looked toward the dark horizon. "So do you want to go out?" he asked. 

"I thought we were out," I replied. The response was just what popped into my head, because I had been hoping this "pacing" gig was a date. 

Beat looked at me, perplexed. "No, I mean to do want to start dating?"

"The California-Montana thing is complicated," I said, apparently persisting in an effort to ruin this moment with awkwardness.

"We'll figure it out," he replied. 

On the summit of Mount Bancroft, sometime around 2 p.m. on July 12, 2020, Beat and I became officially engaged ... finally, most might say. The concept of marriage is a strange one. It's strange to me still. I've never been against marriage, I just hadn't seen it as a necessary step. It's wonderful to form a committed relationship to a person who can be a partner in every aspect of life — from the mundane drudgery to the exhilarating crests. But it's also satisfying to maintain a thread of independence, since ultimately we must travel through life alone. When my last long-term relationship ended, it was emotionally devastating but logically simple. We each took a cat and walked away. Beat was previously married, and it ended badly. Perhaps he and I were both gun-shy at first, and then complacent. But we work so well as partners. We have strong reason to believe we can be happy together indefinitely. It became a question of why not?

I was thrilled about Beat's proposal. It surprised me, how emotional I became. Even as the sky filled with gray clouds, a kind of verdant, vibrant color saturated the landscape. We started down Bancroft, hoping to make quick work of a tundra-ramp descent to Loch Lomond. But of course, the ridge was minefield of loose talus and boulders. I leaned on my trekking poles for support, hoping they'd help me make sense of this jumble. But I miscalculated, moved too quickly, put all of my weight on a pole pressed into a loose boulder, and toppled into the rocks. My hip slammed down first, and I also hit part of my upper leg and knee. Beat rushed toward me as I writhed on my side.

"You know how this goes," I said through gritted teeth. "I'm fine. I just need a moment."

As dawn approached, our conversation quieted. We were both sleep-deprived and delirious, him from the Tor des Geants and 85 miles of the Bear 100, and me from a long week and Vegas and this crazy adventure. I wondered what it would be like to date Beat, a European man who was ten years older, a California resident with an interesting career, impressively smart, a logical thinker next to my flighty artist personality, and an insanely prolific runner. I had yet to finish a 5K, but I was holding my own on this back half of this hundred miler. As dawn light appeared over distant mountains, the temperature plummeted to 23 degrees. We crossed streams coated in ice, and I shivered profusely as our pace slowed on climbs. I had a bare minimum of warm clothing, the kind of stuff my mom bought so we could walk to school in sixth grade. It wasn't enough, but it was enough. I was so amazed and grateful that this had all worked out.

Rain and cold wind found us as we crossed the dam over Loch Lomond and renewed a climb toward the east ridge of James Peak. My leg was throbbing with pain, with the bruise near my hip radiating down a quad muscle toward my knee. It felt like muscle soreness, although I'd characterize it as some of the worst muscle soreness I've yet endured.

"It's like mile 60 of the H.U.R.T. 100," Beat observed.

"Yeah, pretty much like that," I agreed.

The rocky singletrack and surrounding granite cliffs reminded us of the Alps, and we talked wistfully of memories from the past nine years. This will be our first year together without a visit to Europe. It's disappointing, like much of 2020 has been for everyone. But these home mountains hold their own unique intrigue — even favorites like James that we've summited a dozen times.

The trail veered closer to James, away from the direction we needed to climb toward Kingston Peak. Beat decided to take a direct path to the road, putting us in the thick of a brushy marsh. Our feet were soon soaked, and my leg screamed at the motion of stepping over knee-high bushes. Beat zig-zagged through the grass, searching for dry ground, but there was none. Overhead, the storm clouds grew darker. Flecks of rain felt almost like sleet, although the air was still warm. Beat apologized multiple times, but I wasn't bothered.

"I didn't know any better than you," I reasoned.

As he continued searching for a way out of the marsh, I thought, "The best relationship is the person you'll happily follow into the weeds."

After daybreak, I started to fall apart. Perhaps the spell had worn off, or perhaps 40 miles was all my untrained, nonrunner feet could endure. They felt like they were being stabbed with hot pokers while walking on broken glass. The pain was exquisite. With ten miles to go to the finish, on a remote mountain ridge somewhere north of the Idaho-Utah border, I could no longer walk. It was too cold, and I had too few layers to sit at an aid station and wait for a ride out. So I limped alongside Beat, who was as patient as a person could possibly be in such a scenario. 

"You have to leave me," I insisted. "This is your race. I'm supposed to be your pacer. I can get there eventually. You should go." 

Part of Beat's plan for this engagement hike was a side trip into the basin below James Peak, a gorgeous and well-hidden valley dotted with alpine lakes. The diversion wasn't trivial — a steep descent losing a thousand feet on chundery trail — also, in its own way, very Alps-like. But this was Beat's special spot, an alpine sanctuary he'd recently discovered and wanted me to experience. It sounded wonderful, but then I had to go and ruin the moment by injuring myself.

"I still want to go," I insisted as I limped gingerly down the rock-slide off of Kingston Peak. "It's worth it."

Beat didn't leave me behind. He followed at my excruciatingly slow pace as I side-stepped the trail and finally started walking backward down the final descent. It was the only way I could coax myself away from crawling — putting pressure on my heels was unbearable. Below us, Bear Lake sparkled blue and silver beneath the late morning sunlight. It looked close enough to touch, but it was still seven miles and 4,000 feet of vertical descent from the finish line. I inched backward, step after slow step. 

"Please," I said again, almost begging. "Go finish your race."

Beat just shrugged. "Steve and Harry haven't passed yet, so I'm still beating them."

James Peak Lake was indeed a magical spot. But I acknowledged, as the throbbing in my leg grew louder, that perhaps it was a step too far. You'd think, after a decade of "running," I'd have a better handle on my body's limitations. But I still want it all. Beat filtered water from the lake as I paced the shoreline, swatting at mosquitos and trying to calm the pulsing in the muscle — almost like a cramp that wouldn't quite go away. If I stopped walking for even five seconds, it would become stiff and immovable. We discussed our options. We could skip the climb back to Rogers Pass and take the Tolland way back, but it was still eight miles of mostly rough descending. It was runnable, but I didn't think I'd be able to run. Beat offered to race ahead and grab the car, which would allow me to skip the last three miles to East Portal. He said he didn't want to leave me, though, since this was supposed to be our shared moment.

"I think we'll both be happier if you go," I insisted.

I had tears in my eyes because I was so frustrated, walking backward down a road while the lake glistened and taunted me below. But I was laughing out loud, too, because you can't just expect to go out and run 50 miles without consequences. It was an amazing thing — running 50 miles on a whim. There was too much serendipity in the sequence of events to be random. This was meant to be. Beat probably didn't believe in fate, but I couldn't help but let my imagination run wild.

About four miles from the finish, he finally agreed to run ahead, acknowledging that he could still get in under 30 hours, and I could take an easier way to the road. I hobbled into the finish almost an hour after he'd collected his buckle and found a nice, shady spot by a tree. He congratulated me on finishing my first ultramarathon. I hadn't quite thought of it that way before, but he was right. In my blog entry, I wrote, "It was still before noon and the shuttle bus wasn't set to leave the finish line until 7 p.m. There was nothing for us to do but wait, so we settled into a shady spot on the grass, where the lake glistened and gold and green leaves rustled in the wind and wisps of clouds streamed through the bright blue sky. The pain in my feet faded into the background, my mind settled into a pleasant fog, and the only thing I understood was that I was in Fish Haven, Idaho, and I could scarcely comprehend how I got there, but I lived every mile of it, intensely."

As I hobbled toward Tolland, I frequently stopped to look back at James Peak. The colors and light continued changing, from blue to gray to an early evening silver. I listened to my iPod and clutched at every song with happy nostalgia. My leg throbbed and it didn't matter, but every so often I'd hit it just wrong and surprise myself by yelping out in pain. The pain did nothing to dampen the joy. James Peak was so beautiful. There was still so much possibility in the world, so many more miles to live intensely.

Beat was already waiting in the car by the time I reached Tolland, and I teared up all over again.

"You're the best," I said as I leaned toward the driver's seat to kiss him.

"No, you're the best," he said through his ever-illuminating grin. He turned on the engine and we headed home. 


  1. Congratulations! We've never met, but I've enjoyed your blog for a long time, and as a result, share in your joy.

  2. :) :) Congratulations! ! Trust is at the core. Glad you both found it again, cherish it, and may it grow deeper as the years and adventures pass....

    Jeff C

  3. "Living intensely," for most, is often off and on experiences that happen once or twice a year...or maybe in a lifetime. For you guys, it's a near daily vitamins. Intention is a powerful thing. May you always ride the crest of life's waves, side by side or single file. It doesn't matter.

    1. I think we've found a reasonable balance ... some weeks larger doses, others smaller. Life is a matter of intention and perspective. Thank you.

  4. Congratulations, Jill. It has been a fun journey. You are about to embark on a whole new adventure with new surprises and challenges. ENJOY!

  5. Congrats. I struggle with the intensity thing. The older I get the less willing I am to incur some permanent damage that keeps me from doing things I love. I have seen it in so many people older than I am. So I think you can still live intensely in other ways than back to back endurance activities. But thats me and not anyone else and perhaps a justification in my mind. At any rate, you and he are perfect for each other. Glad you both found one another.

    1. I fully agree with you. In past years I've given a lot of thought to what this pursuit might look like in the future. I think pursuits of the mind are another avenue of living intensely: Studying science and philosophy, creating art, learning another language. As you know, writing can be its own intense adventure. I'm still dabbling in fiction, which has been agonizing at times (and not something I'm willing to pursue in public, just yet.) Focus on physical endurance has admittedly led to some intellectual laziness, which I acknowledge and accept as my best path for emotional wellbeing. But I might not always have physical endurance, and I've already experienced a stark limitation on this when I was most impacted by thyroid disease in early 2017. Life is still a grand adventure, and there are so many possibilities even within our human limitations.

    2. I need to respond to this many-faceted reply at some point, because I relate to it on SO many levels! I, as always, wish that you lived close enough so that we could talk - on my brave-enough-for-interactions-with-non-strangers days.

      Sincerest best to you both, always.


    3. It sounds like we'd get along well! I also must work up courage to open conversations with people I don't know. E-mail anytime!

  6. Congrats to you two! You are perfect for each other. Loved the sharing of both your first date and your engagement. Made me tear up! Here's to living life intensely. I know you will continue to do that.

    1. Thanks Corrine. Your friendship as meant so much to us over the years.

  7. Congratulations! I've been reading you since you spoke at the Missoula Bike Club years ago. I'm glad you found each other.

    1. Thank you. So fun to think back on the year I lived in Missoula. I still miss that place.

  8. I just loved this, Jill! The juxtaposition of the two stories was perfect! I am still grinning...and teary-eyed.

    A huge congratulations to you both! Love and hugs, and healing thoughts, of course. 😉

  9. Congratulations! It feels so weird to say this - as a stranger on the Internet - but I am so happy for you two and actually teared up reading this post! I have been reading your blog since 2007 and have read all your books - don't ever stop blogging - I look forward to every post you write! I hope you elope on top of a mountain :)

    1. Ah, thank you. It would be fun to have a celebration on top of a big mountain, but we also want to keep the legal ceremony as simple as possible. It may not be that exciting, but satisfying all the same.

  10. Such a lovely post, which doesn't surprise me after reading your blog and books for so many years. Here's to many more highs than lows in the years to come, and I'm glad you found the perfect match to share them with!

  11. This is so beautiful and needed right now. Thank you for sharing your story. Celebrating love and partnership like this is heartening, even to strangers. Congratulations to you both!

  12. This is so beautiful and needed right now. Thank you for sharing your story. Celebrating love and partnership like this is heartening, even to strangers. Congratulations to you both!

  13. Awesome post Jill! I was also tearing up a teensy happy for you both! And I am still chuckling at your thought: "The best relationship is the person you'll happily follow into the weeds." That seriously cracked me up! Part of what's so humorous is that is SO not my wife! You and Beat are 2 peas in a pod...where-as my wife and I are pretty much opposites in most areas. Her idea of camping would have a hotel room involved, where I am pretty outdoorsy (but nowhere even remotely on the scale of you and Beat). I would assume you two have already started talking about this, but I truly look forward to hear what you come up with for "the wedding"! Congrats!!!!

    1. Beat and I do share a lot of similar passions. We have plenty of individual differences as well. You should ask him how he feels about my mechanical skills. ;-)

      Thanks for your comment! We may end up doing a big celebration post-COVID, but likely we'll put together a very small legal ceremony this summer.

  14. Congratulations! Thanks for sharing your travels together. I wish you both much happiness and intensity.

  15. Only you can write with such intense emotional expressions. Both from 2010, and from this 2020 blog. Yes, yes, congratulations on the lifetime commitment to marry.
    If my love, hope, wishes for you influence fate, you have it.
    Rich Runser

  16. Yeah!! After reading your blog for so long - through transitions, breakup, get together, moves, frostbite, random animal sightings - this was such a fun reflection on what has been and the hope of what is to be. Marriage is such a great adventure with the right partner in crime. May your years together continue to be intentional, intense, and oh so much fun.

  17. Congratulations and best wishes!

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  20. In the world that is our world, this in one of the best stories I have read in a long time.. Congratulations!!!!

  21. I have enjoyed reading your blog for years, sharing vicariously in your adventures and your eloquence in evoking them. Congratulations to you and Beat as you begin this new adventure together. Cathy McDonald

  22. Congratulations to both of you and thank you for bringing us along on your journey through life.

  23. Congratulations from one of your longtime silent readers. This article brought me to surprised and happy tears—it was so beautifully written. Looking forward to more of the adventures of Jill and Beat. Be happy, be intense and live large. Lissa

  24. Congratulations from an almost-Day-1 reader. Beautifully related, too, per your usual writing. Your adventures (and Beat's) have always provided much inspiration for me (and a few family members). I'll always remember bumping into Beat on Bear Peak one day a few years ago - he was wearing a very large/heavy pack...I briefly said hello, referenced your blog (relative to recognizing him), and understood that he was doing Bear Peak 5 times that day, in prep for Ouray. The very best to both of you!

  25. I've happily read your blog for many years. You are a truly gifted writer; this was a gorgeously-written story. Sending you and Beat the most warm-hearted congratulations!

  26. Aww congratulations!! I have enjoyed your story for years. So happy for you both. This was really a lovely way to remember your meeting also... the blog thing is so wild and amazing! You have much talent and I thank you for sharing so openly.

  27. I love this post, with the wonderful news and your flashbacks to when you two first met. I am glad that you are so happy together. I seem to remember a post a long time ago where you pointed out a spot near your parents' place that you said was where you had always thought that you wanted to get married. Hmm?


  28. Congratulations Jill! I am so grateful for all of your posts but found this one to be so incredibly special. I'm so happy for you both! Thank you for continuing to share in this incredible blog and I'm hoping for another book soon too. You are a spectacular writer and it's always a joy to read your posts. Thank you!

  29. So glad I didn't miss this very special post. Beat's proposal was just perfect and your weaving of the journey from meeting to proposal was enthralling. Best wishes and continue to live, love and celebrate life together, to the max!

  30. OMG, you guys! This is finally here, I am so thrilled! And as always, Jill, your writing is absolutely captivating. Congratulations!!!

  31. I've been catching up on your blog recently as I was hosting a USFS campground outside of Yellowstone all summer and haven't had easy internet access. As I was reading this post, I wondered, "Why is she referring back to when she and Beat first met...?" As I kept reading and discovered why, my eyes filled with tears. They were tears of joy that I was feeling for you both, even tho' I've never met you. That should tell you something about how well you connect with your readers. I couldn't be happier for you both and the title you chose for this post couldn't be more apt!


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