Tales of an Incompetent Adventurer
Dating in Wilderness
by Ram & Judy

• S. & S. in North Wash •

We are at Sandthrax campsite in the late afternoon, Stair and Shamrock canyons already done. Ryan and I are going to take a trip to Hog Springs to do our dudy ... ah duty, in keeping our site free of waste. A car pulls in and stops at the first corner. One of the fun things about this site is that almost anyone pulling in is someone you already know or someone you have heard of. They are folks doing what you are doing ... canyoneering. We scope out the woman who gets out of the car. She starts to walk to the heart of the campsite as we drive out. We stop and introduce ourselves to her and her to us. You can sense that she is quite nervous. Perhaps Ryan and I, being such big, dirty, scratched up and so oddly dressed fellows, are a frightening specter? She is in normal clothes and she is the one who looks to be out of place, not us.

Anyway, while we are gone, Penny comes back from a gear retrieval mission to the lower Dirty Devil and the two gals talk. Our new arrival warns Penny about the scary men about. Penny keeps it to herself that she is a part of that mangy crew.

We get back and the gal is back at her car, sitting in the drivers seat. We wave and head in. Dinner is dispatched and the fire started. A second vehicle comes rolling in and stops at the gal’s car. We peek over to see a guy, now chatting with the gal. Then the gal gets in the guy’s vehicle and they drive in and by our fire, heading for a site of their own. I look. The driver looks and recognition happens. A smile and a wave. Window opens and we say our hellos and invite them to join us around the fire that evening.

Moving ahead a little over 24 hours, S and S join the evenings social hours around the fire, and we settle down to an evening of conversation and high spirits. We find out at this time that these folks had met on the Internet and this was their first ‘in person’ meeting and that they were essentially on a canyoneering weekend date. What a world! Gave me the warm fuzzies. We questioned the gal on her bravery at coming out into the middle of nowhere, in November, with someone she really didn’t know. She told stories of her friends warning her. But she had felt a good vibe, and the two of them spent 3 days doing canyons and getting to know one another. From a distance, it appeared that they hit it off. Being a romantic, I thought this was pretty neat

I remember spending time outdoors, very early in relationships, with prospective partners. Some worked well ... others? Well, anyway, one of the best stories was meeting and courting the women who would become my wife, but that is for later if this thread takes off. Anyone got some ‘Dating in the Wilderness’ epics to share?


• Our Story •

RAM  •  It was May 1979. I was hitchhiking from a bit north of Fairbanks, Alaska, where I had wintered, heading for the Adirondacks of upstate New York, to work the summer hiking/climbing program. Figured to take six days of thumbing, with various stops to visit friends, and 4 days on the ferry boat through the Inside Passage down to Seattle, from Alaska. I had my pack, with my possessions and 18 pieces of cardboard, with a hole poked through them, a string tying them together, all with signs for the hitchhike. Some were for key destinations, others were meant to be humorous. I could stand roadside and do flash cards at passing cars to the general amusement of myself and others.

Didn’t bother checking for this ferry’s schedule, so when I arrived at Haines, Alaska, to jump the ferry, I found out that I had missed it by 4 hours and the next one wasn’t scheduled for 4 days! Yikes! Aw well, I hitched back toward the common border of the Yukon, British Columbia and Alaska where there were more bald eagles roosting than one could count. Figured to shoot some pictures. One of my signs said ‘Hawaii’ and had a red airplane drawn on it. This one always got laughs. A fellow I hitched laughed and stopped. He told me he wasn’t going to Hawaii, but I could get a ride in his 2 seat airplane down to Juneau today and down to Ketchikan the next morning. Well, yeah!! OK by me!

First, the take off on the dirt runway, then the fellow swooped above glaciers emptying into the sea and generally gave me the grand tour. He dropped me off in Juneau and, true to his word, gave me another lift the next AM all the way to Ketchikan ... where I was now 4 hours ahead of the ferry I missed 2 days before. The boat my future wife was on ...

Ahhh, Judy just dropped in and wants in on the storytelling

JUDY  •  So, I’ve been travelling with a friend, Rachel, for months throughout the southwest and northwest. The adventure of my life. Rachel and I land in Seattle for about 3 weeks, staying with my Aunt so that Rachel can find herself a job in her chosen field, Wildlife Biology. She is successful and off to Walden, CO she goes. I have a cousin, slightly younger than I, who has some medical issues and wants to take a trip to Alaska (to find a husband...). Her overprotective family is very concerned and realize that I have nowhere to go, so they ask me to go with her. What the hay! Alaska sounds good to me. Off we go.

My cousin and I have very little in common. Although Alaska was awesome, I didn’t experience it quite the way I would have liked since my cousin didn’t want to do anything except chase men. We get on our scheduled ferry to return to Seattle, and I’ve had it. I’m ready to meet some new people. I need some fresh air! We’re approaching a port at Ketchikan, and I see this tall, thin young man with hair down to his waist, and a huge backpack on his back. He is carrying 2 cases of beer and a load of hitchhiking signs that made me giggle: ‘I sold my gas guzzler,’ etc.

RAM  •  I’m on the boat now and I meet this fellow Ken. We are both so deep in BS, we hit it off right away. Later he introduces me to these two women. I decide, what the hay and make plans to hit on the cuter one. I ‘bump’ into her in the hallway and ask her ... I’m embarrassed to say it ...

“How would you like to take two years out of your life and walk from Alaska to Chile with me?”

JUDY  •  So I’m hanging out a lot on the deck, looking to meet other people and to get a break from my cousin. I meet this really cute sandy blonde haired, rugged guy (Ken). I soon discover he is married and in the midst of an affair. I’m smart enough to know this guy is trouble. He’s nice enough, but I know to keep my space. He makes some other friends on the boat, so we all hang together, my cousin joins us a lot too. One time I go to find my newmade friends, and, low and behold, who should be hanging with Ken but the tall long–haired hippie with the signs and the beer. He approaches me later and, of all things, asks if I want to walk with him from Chile to Alaska ... Pretty wild, but I’m definitely intrigued.

RAM  •  Well, we chat each other up a little and decide to put the Alaska–to–Chile thing on hold and instead take a week in Washington. We meet at Mt. Rainier, hike, and spend the time together, including catching the hang gliding championships in Morton. I try romancing her across the state on the way to Idaho. Not really working and I am about to give up, but we decide to keep trying and plan to meet on October 3rd, over 4 months ahead, in Toulomme Meadows in Yosemite. The agreement is made that we will only contact each other’s parents if one of us was going to cancel our planned meeting. Judy watched as I worked the signs, got my ride and adios

JUDY  •  October came around and I think Ram and I had touched base a couple times. So it was time to go meet in Yosemite. I was coming from Wisconsin. Ram was coming from upstate New York. As we all know, Ram’s memory is precise so he told me exactly where to meet him. We met at the appointed time and hiked and climbed by day and watched playoff baseball by night in the bars. We traveled through California, Oregon and Washington over the course of a month. Sometimes we got along well, other times it was iffy. I continued to be intrigued by the Ram as he was starting to grow on me. Next, Ram was headed back up to Alaska, and myself to Eugene, Oregon. We made plans to meet on the 15th of September the following year in the Adirondacks of upstate New York.

RAM  •  I wintered again in Alaska and made the hitch back to the Adirondacks and spent the summer adventuring with the kids. Camp ended and I ran around the mountains for a few weeks until our appointed meeting. It was at a place called Chapel Pond (famous rock and ice locale). I had given her directions to a rock lean–to called the Cave that was often a campsite of ours. She was coming from Bryan, Texas this time. At 8:30 AM, I lay in my sleeping bag, half awake, half dozing, with early morning sunlight filtering through the trees, and over the hill came Judy. She looked like a dream. I lost my heart to her that very moment. We spent a few weeks adventuring and soon we were setting up housekeeping.

JUDY  •  Spent the night in a rest area on the way to the Adirondacks. I was close. Woke early and don’t think I slept too well. I was too excited. Received a warm reception at the ‘Cave.’ We’ve been together ever since. It was six years later that we married. Ram is a little slow at some things. Our courtship was one of adventuring. The best part is that the adventuring has never stopped.

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