This sunset will be worth the hike

Submitted by Todd McClanahan, State Parks Regional Director, Texas Parks and Wildlife

McClanahan's at ERock
It was a hot mid-August afternoon in the Texas Hill Country.  Jamie had never been to Enchanted Rock State Natural Area and this was the perfect time for her first trip.  

We had been dating for a little over a year and loved hiking and spending time in the outdoors. She was a little reluctant given the extreme heat but I was on a mission.

We left our home in New Braunfels late afternoon as I wanted to reach the summit before sunset. As we drove through the Hill Country, I was trying to explain how truly impressive this place is. She kept giving me glances and they weren't "I love you" looks. They were more like, "are you kidding me, it's 100 degrees outside!"

As we arrived, the time was slipping away and I knew we had a long hike ahead if we were to make it to the summit in time. I "lovingly" encouraged her along, and we gathered our water and laced up the shoes tight. It wasn't long before I looked back to see her panting and, again, giving me "the look." I tried to be positive, telling her that this sunset would be one of the most memorable of her life. We trekked up and up, reached a seemingly flat spot, and then up and up some more. Our calves were burning but we pushed on.

As we finally reached the summit, she was exhausted but pleased with the view. As we sat there to catch our breath, I told her about how children use all of their senses to experience the moment. I asked her to close her eyes and use her sense of hearing and smell to experience being in a magical place.

When she opened her eyes, I was on one knee and asked if she would honor me by becoming my wife. I will never forget the look in her eyes as the tears immediately started flowing. She kept saying "are you kidding me, ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!" I finally had to clarify if that was a "yes". It was.

We embraced and she immediately started planning the wedding. Needless to say, we don't really remember the hike down nor did we feel the burning in our legs any longer. The year was 1999 and we had one cell phone with no service. As soon as we did, she began calling family and friends.

This year we will celebrate our 13th anniversary and we have been blessed to work, play and experience the great outdoors with our two sons in some of the most spectacular places in Texas.

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