Clay and I first kayaked together on the Skykomish River four and a half years ago. Since then the Sky has wound its way through our relationship giving us experiences that I would not trade for the world. So when it came time to take our relationship to the next level, Clay knew that there would be no better place to “pop the question.”
On February 17th, we set out to the Sky with our close friends and kayaking buddies. It seemed to me like one of our normal weekend kayak trips, our friend Tim cracking jokes in the back seat, dub-step flowing from the speakers, and all of us leaving for kayaking way earlier than we get up during the work week!
Boulder drop, my archenemy rapid on the Skykomish, a playful class IV, was running at a high flow. I was feeling tired, and Clay encouraged me not to run it. So when we got to the top of the rapid, we pulled into the eddy, I told him I loved him and kissed him good luck as we parted ways. I had an anticipation I couldn’t explain to get down to the put-in below Boulder Drop. As I walked down the muddy hill back towards the river, I noticed Clay and the rest of the guys were out of their boats. My first thought was that someone swam, and I eagerly swept my eyes over them checking to see if they were all accounted for and unharmed. My friend Chris noticed my worried look, and joked that they all swam the rapid. Reassured I started making my way down through the boulder-laden side of the hill, and glanced down towards the edge of the river where Clay stood. He turned towards me, knelt down on the boulder next to the river’s edge and pulled out a small white box. My heart felt like it leapt out of my chest as I realized what was happening. I hurriedly dropped my kayak and paddle, and scrambled down the hill, and tackled him, almost sending us both into the river. Before he could get a word out, I kissed him and accepted the ring. Another of our friends produced a bottle of champagne, saying “it was pretty hard to boat down here with this rolling in the back of my boat!” as he handed us the bottle.
In all of our excitement on the side of the river, after taking a sip of champagne, Clay fell into the river. And in typical kayaker fashion, our friends started chanting “Booty Beer! Booty Beer!” and without skipping a beat, I started removing my booty, so that my new fiancé could drink a champagne booty beer.
I imagined Clay asking me to marry him for the past year of our relationship, and I hoped that it would involve kayaking and our close friends. All I can say is that he nailed it. It was more perfect than I ever imagined.
– By Jordan Apele
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