How we met – by Nicole: One day while on my lunch break in May 2013, I made a split second decision that I wanted to spend my summer at a sleep away camp that was about an hour from my house. Till this day I still have no idea where the idea came from, but within seconds after the thought entered my mind, I was e-mailing one of the directors asking for the job. Before my 30 minute lunch break was out, I had the position. The week before camp started I started having serious second thoughts. I was so nervous about the job itself, as well as the idea of living at camp full-time for 7 weeks. The first day of camp orientation was flying by in a blur as I desperately clung to the first friend I made when I spotted Ste. I was never one to believe in love at first sight but something inside my heart jumped that very first time I saw him and from that moment on I was drawn to him. After three or four days of watching him from a distance because I was way too scared to approach him, all of the camp staff went out for our first night on the town. It took about an hour for me to work up enough nerve to start walking toward him when I saw him walking over to me. The first thing he said…”do you know what time it is?” and yes, I did notice he was wearing a watch. We danced that night away, spent our first date skydiving in upstate NY and after 3 months of knowing each other, ditched our jobs and backpacked around South East Asia for 7 months, making the most incredible memories together. When we are together there’s no telling what adventure we will get into next. He makes my life complete and brings out the best in me every day. To me, the best part about our love story is that I never had to think about whether he was the “one.” I just knew.
how they asked – by Ste: The thought hit me one evening after a crazy day of work during the summer, a job in which I don’t really get to see Nicole much at all. I remember sitting on my bed wishing she was around when the thought hit me. . .”I want to marry her!”
It was quite a stark realization at first, I mean, I knew from the minute I met her that I would one day marry her, but now it just became very real, I was about to ‘Pop the question.’
Now, we are far from the ‘conventional’ couple. We are dreamers and doers, travelers and wanderers. We were back in the United States working a summer job after coming off a whole year of backpacking South East Asia, where we did some pretty remarkable things. We had been officially bitten by the travel bug. Knowing that both Nicole and I were quite the adventurers, always seeking out the next adrenaline rush, I knew that this couldn’t be just any typical proposal, I knew that it had to be something one of a kind.
We were about 6 weeks away from taking a trip to Hawaii and Vegas before moving to Australia for the year and I knew I wanted to ask Nicole to marry me before we left to start the newest chapter of our lives down under. That left Hawaii or Las Vegas. I quickly narrowed it down to two options; doing some crazy hike to a beautiful look out or scenic beach in Hawaii, or doing it at/in the grand canyon in Las Vegas.
After giving it some thought I ruled out Vegas with the fear of the Grand Canyon being too touristy and not personal enough. That left only one thing to figure out. . .where in Hawaii, on the island of Oahu, would be a fitting enough place to propose to my dream girl?
I tried my best to do some research on cool spots/look out points/beaches but I was also very busy with long working days at the time. I did stumble across something called ‘The Stairway to Heaven’ hike amongst my sporadic Google sessions. The descriptions and pictures of this hike were mind blowing. 4,000 creaky, old, broken steps scaling up the side of a mountain to Oahu’s highest look out point of the island. The hike was physically hard and every bit as dangerous; it seemed perfect. However, the was one major problem. . . it was illegal.
The stairs have been closed to the public for several years and the police have been really cracking down with security and fines for trespassers. I was bummed, I thought I had found THE spot, but I figured that I would continue with my search and find something else that could hopefully match up to the magnitude of the Haiku Stairs.
The rest of the summer flew and before I knew it I was on a plane bound for Hawaii, Nicole at the side of me, with not clue as to where I was going to get down on one knee. I’m a pretty good improviser and figured I could deal with the logistics once we had landed.
Funnily enough, on the very first day whilst we were laying on the beach, Nicole chirps up out of nowhere; “Oh babe, check out this hike I have just read about. It’s closed to the public but we HAVE to try and do it, it looks amazing”. . .you guessed it, she was referring to the Stairway to Heaven.
That was all I needed, it was a sign, I was going to ask her to marry me at the top of the stairs, now I just needed to figure out how on earth we were going to get passed the security guard and get up there without facing a hefty fine.
We set off in the middle of the afternoon, in the blazing heat, my heart racing at the thought of getting turned away at the gate and having my plan ruined.
We had to hike 20 minutes before even getting to the gate, where our fate would be determined. Would the security guard be there or not? The whole time we were trudging through the rain forest I felt the weight of world on my shoulders. Like the engagement ring I had put in the backpack had suddenly transformed itself into a ton of bricks. I was so invested in asking Nicole to marry me here, that if we got turned away at the gate I would’ve been crushed.
Low and behold, when we arrived at the gate there sat the security guard, plain as day in clear sight of the start of the stairs. We waited fruitlessly for around 45 minutes, in the hope that the female security guard may clock off/change shifts, but to no avail. I calmly turned to Nicole and explained that it was clear she wasn’t going anywhere soon and that I was going to go up to her and straight up ask if there would be anyway through. Nicole stayed hidden in the forrest, confused and out of sight, as I approached the security guard, my heart racing.
“Hey! You can’t be here!” she said. I calmly replied that I knew she was the security and I understood what this probably meant. However, instead of retreating and admitting defeat I had one last trump card in my pocket (literally). . .”I understand that this is your job, and I completely respect that. However, I would never forgive myself if I didn’t at least try to get up these stairs today. I have been planning this for quite some time” as I pulled the ring from my pocket “you have no idea what it would mean to me if there is some way you could let me pass today, I plan on proposing to my girlfriend at the top of these stairs”
The security guard covered her mouth in shock and I saw the glisten of a tear in the corner of here eye. She looked around nervously and then proclaimed “I have never done this before but how can I say no to that, I will look the other way….good luck” she smiled.
I ran back and grabbed a confused Nicole, as we walked straight past the security guard who didn’t even bat an eyelid. I gave Nicole some crazy story about how I had made up a story that we had flown thousands of miles just for this and even offered her money. Nicole was confused but I diverted her questions and the time for any further inquisition was soon done, as we found our feet at the 1st of the 3,000-some steps.
I am not going to go into too much detail regarding the climb itself. I will say this, though. It was one of the scariest, most jaw-droppingly scenic and challenging climbs that I have done. Nicole was a nervous wreck, to the point were I was questioning whether I had chosen the right place to propose, she really wasn’t having all that much fun. However, being the trooper that she is she kept putting one foot in front of the other and in just over an hour’s time we had reached the top step.
Nicole was still shaken, and extremely nervous about the steep descent ahead. However, I gave her a hug, I told her that I was proud of her and that it’s just so “us” to do crazy things like this. I told her that I want to keep doing crazy things and living life to the full with her for the rest of my life. At this point I got down on one knee and asked her to spend the rest of her life with me.
And the rest, as they say, is history. . .
Photography and Videography by Ste Lane