Driving Across Canada Day 19: That Time I Got Engaged on a Mountain

Spoiler alert: I got engaged. On a mountain.The funny part: I didn’t even know it was happening. The day started off normal. We drove from my aunt and uncle’s place in Jasper where we were staying to the Alberta, B.C. border where Mt. Robson is.

Five years ago when we first started dating we climbed up here during a brief vacation during Rob’s adventures touring a fringe festival theatre show he’d written. It’s a pretty special place for us so we couldn’t drive by without spending a couple days on her.

The day was a beauty, right from the start.

Rob standing out in front of the visitor’s centre with the sun in his eyes. (Mel Hattie)

We planned to hike up to the Whitehorn campground on the mountain to camp overnight and then head back down the next day.

You need to get a tag from the visitor’s centre if you want to stay overnight on the mountain. When we showed up Whitehorn campground was already full for the night, so we bought a tag for Kinney Lake instead.  We weren’t crushed because it actually meant less distance to haul our gear and we could still hike up to Whitehorn before returning to Kinney Lake for the night.

At the visitor’s centre we watched the mandatory safety video (it’s short, but I feel like no one ever watches it) and got our tent tag. Then we left and drove to the base of Robson.


Mt. Robson is the third highest mountain in British Columbia, after Mount Fairweather and Mount Washington.

Confusingly, I keep hearing and reading that Mt. Robson has the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies, but looking at this mountain peaks of Canada chart, it doesn’t seem that high compared to some of the others. Either way, it’s beautiful! One of my favourite mountains in Canada.

If you want to try and summit the mountain proper, you need to be out for about a week. Here’s some information about the various campgrounds along the Berg Lake Trail.

There’s a nice river that runs along the path.


When we reached Kinney Lake we recreated this photo from five years ago:

Hello little Mel! Aw, your hair is so cute. Good job. (Mel Hattie)
Hello older Mel! Aw, you’re so sweaty. But still cute. Didn’t have that huge backpack last time. <3 (Mel Hattie)

Speaking of nostalgia, here are some more cute shots from 2010:

Baby Rob! He looks about 12. He’s actually 21 here. (Mel Hattie)
Mmm. That was a good t-shirt. (Mel Hattie)

We were such babies! Look at those little faces!


We had a snack at Kinney Lake, set up our tent and then kept climbing up to Whitehorn.


Rob is quite the sage now. Wizened by age.

Yes. Quite sage-like.

This is a guy who won me over by popping into my friend’s living room one night and spontaneously inviting me to live with him and be in his play. He then made me breakfast every morning for about a month until I started falling for him.

I mean, he would hand squeeze the orange juice. Who wouldn’t fall in love with that?

Five years later, we’ve climbed mountains in South Korea and Canada, been on a Cuban wedding adventure, started second degrees (Me: Masters of Journalism. Him: Computer Science), gotten two cats (Taters and Trout) and made plans for a lot more adventures.

He supports me more than anyone and is always supportive of all my crazy ideas.

One of his impressions of me, done with love: “I’m Mel Hattie, I want to be a Rhodes scholar, shoot for National Geographic and fly to Mars on a giraffe made of chocolate.”

He wears Korean face masks with me. We talk about everything and he is just 100% the best.

I still had no idea he was going to propose though. I mean, what is that even, ‘a proposal’. It sounds like it should be drafted up, edited, submitted for review and revised.

The path to Mount Whitehorn.
The path to Mount Whitehorn. Goddamn it is beautiful. (Mel Hattie)
This is Whitehorn campground. I know. It’s fucking beautiful. See the sunbather by the rocks on the right-hand shoulder of the river? That’s the life, right there. I love Canada. (Mel Hattie)

By the time we hiked back down to our Kinney Lake tent, night was sneaking up on us, but it wasn’t quite dark enough yet for stargazing.

I crawled into the tent and started reading Lord of the Rings which turned into a quick snooze.

Who the fuck brings Lord of the Rings up a mountain? Have I never heard of pack light? It’s probably one of the heaviest novels in existence. So clueless. An e-book wouldn’t have been as epic though. (Mel Hattie)

Unbeknownst to me, my reading choices are providing convenient foreshadowing!

When it got dark enough to see the stars, Rob got me up and out of the tent. Weirdly, he seemed very persistent.

We walked to a spot by the lake slightly off the trail, only slightly concerned that a bear was spotted by the lake the day before. We lit the trail with an LED headlamp.

So we found a spot at the edge of the water and got cozy in our sleeping bag by the lake. We were watching the sky. I was still kind of foggy from just waking up, so I didn’t notice when Rob started going into this kind of super romantic speech-type thing.

I won’t elaborate, but it definitely included stuff akin to, ‘these have been the best years of my life’ and ‘want to spend the rest of my days with you’.

I still wasn’t getting it.

My response to said romantic gesture?

Me: “Thanks babe. Geez… that was really nice.  I didn’t know we were doing speeches.”

I go back to watching the stars.

Then he pulls the ring out and says,

Him: “Will you marry me?”

I am a deer in the headlights.

Me: O.O <- like this.

Me: “What… Wait… What? Wait…” Then I actually say something useful, “Whoah. Is there a ring?” Because it’s dark and I can’t really see anything. So he turns on the LED.

Me: “Whoah. There is! Wow. Shit just got real! Whoah…”

Meanwhile, as I’m in shock he later tells me he was freaking out on the inside, like: Why hasn’t she said YES yet? 

In my head, I’m thinking: Okay, I was expecting we’d do this engagement thing, but in like a year or two and it’s a big decision. I had planned to say yes, but was totally caught off guard and was like, “Dude, am I really ready for this?”

But then, are we ever ready? For anything? Why not now?

Finally I said,

Me: “”Yeah, duh, of course I’ll marry you!” *Kiss, kiss.* “BUT…”

(I’m so responsible)

Me: “I want to finish my Masters first.”

Very good, Mel.

So we’re both really happy, and excited. He puts the ring on my finger, and it’s kind of big.

Me: “It’s pretty close! Almost fits. Good guess.”

Him: “I took one of your rings to get the size.”

Me: “Which one?”

He describes the ring. It was one of my thumb rings.

Apparently he’d secretly gotten this ring and had been carrying it around in a sock for months. He first thought he’d propose to me at Christmas, but my parents’ marriage was falling apart and things were kind of doom and gloom at the time.

Getting proposed to in this awesome spot during an awesome road trip was probably the best thing I couldn’t have planned.

The ring is friggin’ awesome and I love it so much. It makes me feel like Sailor Moon. I love pearls. Good job Rob. He picked it out all on his own and I love it. (Mel Hattie)

Well done, sir.

So we cried and laughed a bit, then had the luck to see some shooting stars. After all that, we headed back inside the tent. We were talking about how oblivious I am sometimes, and then Rob shushed me all of a sudden.

I am not accustomed to being shushed.

“I heard something outside,” he says.

I listened. We could faintly hear something snorting around the campsite.

Oh, shit.

The bear!

We turned off the LEDs and huddled. We had no food in the tent, so we weren’t really a target.


So we spent the rest of our newly-engaged night in a tent worried about getting eaten by bears. Huzzah!

Around seven hours of time and maybe three hours of sleep later… sunrise!

That’s it. Then we hiked back down the mountain and as soon as we were on the highway and had cell phone service again, I started calling all my family to tell them.

My sister’s reaction:


For days after I would just stare at my hand. Whenever I reached for something or stretched I’d be like: “Holy shit. Look at this thing!”

So, yeah. I said yes.

After all, I like adventures.

Day 19 Costs

  • Berg Lake Trail Registration and Campsite for 2: $20.00
  • Mt. Robson Cafe: $25.85
  • Souvenirs @ Rocky Bear Gifts: $10.71
  • Gas, Jasper: $80.03
  • Bear’s Paw Bakery: $24.00

Total: $160.59 (i.e., priceless)

P.S. On a funny side note, days before when we were in Toronto with Liz and Sam I mentioned in front of Rob that I’d never agree to marry him unless he had a family doctor. I was half-joking. Anyway, turns out the whole trip Rob had frantically been calling back home to try and get lined up with a family doctor before he asked me to marry him. So (I had completely forgotten this) but a day or two before we climbed Mt. Robson he says, “Mel, I finally found a family doctor.” and I was like, “Cool dude, glad to hear it.” Not at all clueing in.

Author: Mel Hattie

Hi, I’m Mel, blogger and tea sommelier at Mel Had Tea. I love to explore, learn, and meet new people. Nothing inspires me more than reading, traveling the world, talking to strangers, and drinking tea.

What do you think?

  • Beautiful story. Absolutely Beautiful!!! Congrats (Robs dad is my first cousin) Beautiful family.

  • Happy, oh so so very happy to be reading this post. Truly you two are becoming my model for happiness. It sounds like the most perfectly perfect proposal (minus the bear).
    Hugs and love!

    • The bear definitely creates some dramatic tension. Like in Shakeapeare’s ‘A Winter’s Tale, Act III, sciii’, “[Exit, pursued by a bear]”. Luckily, neither of us are villains so it ended well! Thanks lady for your kind words. Hope all it well in your part of the world. 🙂 Hugs to you too!

  • Holy shit you guys are wonderful. I’m just sitting here, happily sighing for you. <3