Hikes, Sunsets … and Noxious Weeds

Jackie & Dave
jackiedave 2

It was a typical hot Kansas evening in July 2022. I had just returned home from a solo backpacking trip with my pups. Then, I posted about my latest adventure on social media, while sitting comfortably in my air-conditioned home.

Ding! Hmm, a message from Dave. 

I thought to myself, THE DAVE BOX—the man, the myth, the legend! 

Dave is well-known in the ultra-running community, well, as “well known” as you can get in such a small community. I thought very highly of him through the world of social media and from his famous FlatRock 101K Ultra Trail Race win in 2017. (Dubbed “FloodRock.” Seriously. Google it.) Dave and I were social media friends when I received this message, but I hadn’t met him in person, other than when he flew past me during races. 

Dave wins 100-mile races. (Yes, I know … you don’t even like to drive that far.) He’s legit. Meanwhile, I’m a solid “middle of the packer” that cracks lame, mostly inappropriate jokes with random strangers to make the time, and pain, go away during the long races. 

Anyway, I scrolled through his previous messages and thought, Oh, I think he’s been trying to get my attention. 

Dave is a private person, so rather than commenting on posts, he would send me a message instead. This time, Dave informed me that my latest adventure was basically in his backyard and asked if we could hike there together sometime. After that, we started texting (aka flirting) and talking daily. However, there was one small issue—we live three hours apart. Dave lives in rural Coffeyville, Kansas, in a log cabin on a hidden lake oasis, one to two miles from the Oklahoma and Kansas border, and I live in Holton, Kansas, about 35 miles from the Nebraska and Kansas border.

Nearly a month after that first message, we met halfway between our homes at Eisenhower State Park near Lyndon, Kansas, and spent hours talking, walking, and eating a meal that Dave skillfully prepared. As we parted ways, we hugged, he kissed the top of my head (umm, awkward), and shortly after, I watched him speed off. 

That went well, I thought to myself. 

As Dave drove away, I knew I would love him. In what capacity, I wasn’t sure, but it didn’t take long to figure it out. We have talked every single day after that first date, and in less than three months’ time, we amassed many adventures in six states (and counting).

Our love grew quickly over the next few months, especially when I found out Dave has nine—yes, nine!—cats. (Fun fact: Dave is allergic to cats.) We saw each other once or twice a month, which usually included me packing up my pups and hitting the road to visit Dave’s shanty in the woods. Each visit was a new adventure, and we were both able to maintain our crazy individual schedules.

Over the holidays, while curled up by the fireplace in Dave’s cabin, we finally decided to take that hike mentioned in the message that started our relationship. It was a chilly New Year’s morning, so we bundled up, and headed out to Elk City Lake. We hiked a couple miles in the dark to an overlook. 

jackiedave 7

Foggy. Great, I thought to myself. We won’t see a decent sunrise.

We were collecting firewood, and a few minutes later I heard music.

“Dance with me,” Dave exclaimed, and on came one of my favorite songs, “To Make You Feel My Love” by Bob Dylan.

We began to dance, and as the song ended, Dave knelt on one knee and asked me to spend the rest of my life with him. Dave planned the entire proposal, picked the ring—everything! Looking back at the video (Yes, he even recorded it!), we realized the Lord blessed that very moment for us with a gorgeous pink and purple sky that words cannot accurately describe.

We quickly (that same day, actually) decided to marry in a location that neither of us had been to. We wanted to celebrate our love for the outdoors, with no pressure, no theme, and no expectations. While there was some planning involved, everything was fluid, and nothing was rigid. We decided the only thing we required was hiking boots. 

jackiedave 1

All the details fell into place. We quickly settled on Grand Teton National Park, and less than nine months later, we recited our vows under The Wedding Tree in the Bridger-Teton National Forest on September 30, 2023. The weather was forecast to be rainy and cold, however, the day turned out to be beautiful! The sky was blue, the temperatures were perfect, and the clouds were puffy and white.

Our special day started with a chilly first look at sunrise, complete with a gorgeous reflection of the moon in the still water at Schwabacher Landing. Afterward, we hit the road to hold our ceremony at The Wedding Tree. We spent the rest of the day exploring the park in our wedding attire. Then, we enjoyed pizza in Jackson, hiked the Taggart-Bradley Lake Loop, hung out in our rooftop tent, and played in the cool lake water. We ended our day enjoying the blue hour at the summit of Signal Mountain. One of the most exciting moments was coming across a mother moose and her calf while hiking. What an incredible experience for us Flatlanders!

Our wedding adventure marked the longest stretch of time we (to date) have been physically together, as Dave and I continue to live three hours apart. Upon returning home, we assumed our normal, independent lives, and eagerly look forward to many more adventures, and eventually, the day when we begin our own adventure together—full-time. 

Honorable mention

Our wedding ring photo, with the bull thistle in the background, is a nod to my grandpa who hated thistle, since it is a noxious weed in Kansas. Every time I see it, I try to take a picture because it is, indeed, beautiful, and always reminds me of my grandpa. I can hear him laughing at that picture of our rings with a disgusting weed.

jackiedave 5


Wedding Date: September 30, 2023

CeremonyLocation: The Wedding Tree, Bridger Teton National Forest Reception Location: Hiking in Grand Teton National Park Officiant: Pastor Ben Nardi, United Methodist Church Photographer: Samantha Drew Photography Hair and Makeup: Beauty by Cassie, Idaho Falls Florist: Danielle C. Stone, The Wilusz Way Music: Nature at its finest! Consultant: Samantha Drew Caterer: Hand Fire Pizza, Jackson Other Specialty Vendors: Grace Loves Lace (dress); Hoka and Altra (shoes); Salty Lass Sea Glass on Etsy (sea glass jewelry)

Share This Story With Friends