September 25, 2023
She went mountaineering within the woods and met the love of her life


Sarah was resting in her hammock, flask of whiskey in hand, surveying the cover of timber forward and having fun with the peace and quiet.

It was late Might 2015 and Sarah was spending the lengthy Memorial Day weekend mountaineering a New York-based part of the Appalachian Path, the scenic hike that winds throughout the Japanese United States.

In 2015, Sarah had simply turned 30. She cherished her job, her associates and her life in Lengthy Island, New York, however she all the time felt the pull of the woods. She’d spend weekends mountaineering upstate, relishing the contemporary air and the quiet.

“I used to be there as a lot as attainable, as a result of the older that I bought, the extra I missed being close to the paths within the woods the place I had grown up,” Sarah tells CNN Journey.

“I grew up in Maine, which is the place the Appalachian Path begins – or ends – and so I used to be main journeys for a summer time camp on sections of the Appalachian Path earlier than I even graduated highschool.”

That Memorial Day weekend, Sarah deliberate to hike an extended loop of the path she hadn’t tackled earlier than. She wasn’t alone, at the very least not strictly talking – she was dog-sitting a pal’s Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Obie, and he or she introduced him alongside too.

“I’m like, ‘all proper, buddy, I hope you’re able to go as a result of we bought a whole lot of miles to cowl,’” remembers Sarah. “And we did.”

The final day of the hike, Sarah arrange her tent in a secluded spot close to the William Brien shelter space. It was a tranquil spot and Sarah discovered herself exhaling, having fun with the calm and resting her drained legs.

“I hadn’t showered in 4 days, and I’d hiked like over 20 miles,” remembers Sarah. “And so I’m sitting in my hammock, barefoot, letting my sneakers air out.”

Immediately, the quiet was interrupted by Obie barking. Sarah appeared up, and noticed a fellow hiker approaching the campsite.

She went mountaineering within the woods and met the love of her life

Assembly the stranger’s eyes, Sarah felt immediately snug – positive, she’d simply met a stranger within the woods. However she trusted him straight away. He appeared pleasant. And Sarah thought he was engaging – smiling, carrying a backwards baseball cap.

“However I’m attempting to play it cool, as a result of I’m actually a scorching mess at this level,” Sarah remembers.

“Have you learnt the place I can discover water?” requested the stranger.

Sarah had no thought.

“There’s a lake possibly half a mile up the yellow path,” she provided, then gestured to her flask. “However I’ve some whiskey if you need some?”

The stranger laughed, however declined the supply. He pulled out his paper map and confirmed it to Sarah – on his map, at nearly precisely the place she’d arrange her hammock, was a small “W” for water. Sarah pulled out her cellphone to match this to the paper and PDF maps she’d been utilizing all weekend. There was no such marking on any of her maps, and no signal of water close by.

Here's the map Travis was using that day, with the

Whereas they in contrast maps, Sarah and the stranger launched themselves. He was Travis King, then in his mid-30s and primarily based in Philadelphia. He was spending weekends, like Sarah, escaping his metropolis, mountaineering the Appalachian Path in sections.

After a number of minutes of forwards and backwards, Travis headed off, nonetheless on a quest to discover a spring or river.

Sarah busied herself getting ready dinner. Then she climbed again into her hammock to observe the solar set. As nightfall descended, she lit her campfire, and located herself pondering once more about Travis.

“Man, Travis appeared cool. Possibly he’ll come again,” she thought.

Certain sufficient, about an hour or so later Travis reappeared, and struck up dialog with Sarah once more.

“We simply talked for a half hour, speaking about a few of our different travels. He’d ridden a motorcycle by way of Belgium, that was the story he was telling me. And I used to be telling him that I had been to South America,” remembers Sarah.

The subject of their diverging maps got here up once more. As Sarah was displaying her PDF model to Travis as soon as once more, she realized this was the right excuse to ask for his mobile phone quantity.

“Give me your quantity and I’ll textual content you the map that I exploit,” she stated, attempting to sound as informal as attainable.

Travis agreed. There was no mobile phone service within the woods, however Sarah promised to textual content Travis the map the next day, when she regained reception. The 2 hikers stated their goodbyes, Travis heading off in one other path, and Sarah settling down for the night time.

The subsequent day, Sarah postpone leaving the woods for so long as attainable. She was in no hurry to get again to Lengthy Island and wished to get pleasure from her previous couple of hours immersed in nature.

However when she finally returned to her automobile and to her cellphone sign, Sarah despatched Travis a message, attaching the map, as promised, and wishing him all the very best for the remainder of his hike. Then she drove again residence.

That night, Sarah unpacked and tried to keep away from checking her cellphone. However each time she appeared, there was no response from Travis.

The subsequent day she awakened, went to work, got here residence and there was nonetheless no response. Late that night, Sarah relented and despatched one other textual content, figuring possibly the primary hadn’t bought by way of.

This time, Sarah bought a response, nevertheless it wasn’t the one she was anticipating:

“My identify is Kathy, I don’t know who you’re searching for, however please cease texting me.”

Sarah screenshotted the reply, and despatched it to a number of associates. She’d already instructed them about Travis, however none of her associates thought it was a good suggestion for Sarah to be in contact with him.

“Individuals all the time assume that solely nut jobs are out within the woods. So all people’s like, ‘Why do you care? Why are you upset that he’s not texting you again?” Sarah remembers.

So far as Sarah’s associates have been involved, the message from Kathy sealed the deal.

“All my associates have been like, ‘Sarah, I guess he’s married. I guess he gave you his spouse’s quantity, and that’s why she’s mad. Or he gave you a pretend quantity on function.’”

However Sarah felt sure Travis was honest. And that they have been meant to satisfy once more.

“More often than not you meet folks touring and that’s that – however for no matter purpose, Travis simply was totally different,” she says.

In the meantime, Travis was again in Philadelphia, interested by Sarah, and questioning why she hadn’t messaged him.

“I used to be form of bummed as a result of I used to be like, ‘Oh, man, she was tremendous fascinating. I do know she has my quantity and it’s been a few days and I haven’t gotten this map, I haven’t heard from her. I haven’t heard from this person who I want to discuss to some extra, as a result of she was tremendous cool,” he tells CNN Journey.

Travis hadn’t taken down Sarah’s particulars, so there was nothing he might do. He didn’t know her full identify, or any figuring out info that might assist him discover her on social media.

Sarah was additionally stumped.

“I didn’t know his final identify. All I knew was the final space the place he grew up, the place he lived now, he loved mountaineering, he was in his mid-30s,” she remembers.

The times rolled on. Later that week, Sarah was out at a bar with a pal, relaying the story for what felt just like the hundredth time. The pal requested to see the quantity, and examined Sarah’s cellphone for a second.

“I don’t like that six within the center,” she stated. “Change that six to a 5.”

Figuring she had nothing to lose, Sarah did simply that. Then she typed out a fast hiya, and hit ship.

Inside seconds, the three dots appeared indicating somebody was writing a response. Then three phrases popped up on the display:

“Who is that this?”

“Sarah from the woods?” wrote Sarah, typing furiously. She’d meant to incorporate an exclamation mark, however in her pleasure, the query mark slipped in as an alternative.

“The place’s the map you have been going to ship me?” got here the reply.

Sarah turned to her pal, gobsmacked. She waved the cellphone excitedly.

“It’s him! It’s him!” she stated.

Sarah and Travis tracked one another down again, despite the wrong number.

Connection reestablished, Sarah and Travis messaged forwards and backwards all night and into the subsequent day.

Earlier than lengthy, these textual content messages changed into lengthy cellphone calls.

“We have been simply speaking each night time, texting nonstop, speaking,” remembers Travis.

A couple of month after their first textual content alternate, Sarah and Travis agreed to satisfy once more. Travis organized to journey to New York to stick with Sarah for the weekend.

What ought to have been a two or three hour drive took nearer to eight hours – with Travis hitting rush hour New York Metropolis site visitors.

Sarah was ready at residence for him, however finally she needed to head out. Whereas she labored in an workplace throughout the day, her ardour was music and he or she sang at venues throughout New York State. She had a gig that night time, so texted Travis to inform him to satisfy her there, and went on forward.

“Then, midway by way of the present, he walks in with a smile on his face,” remembers Sarah.

She was standing on stage, mid-song, when Travis entered on the again.

“He simply sat by way of seven and a half hours of site visitors and he nonetheless got here in right here with a smile on his face.”

Sarah smiled again.

“It was simply actually cool to see him in particular person,” she says.

Travis says it didn’t even happen to him to really feel annoyed by the site visitors. He was simply so excited to reunite with Sarah.

“From the time she first reached out to me with that textual content – ‘Sarah from the woods query mark’ – I felt like she was nearly my greatest pal by default as a result of we simply talked on a regular basis. I didn’t discuss to anyone else that a lot,” says Travis. “I used to be completely happy to get to see her once more and to spend time together with her and truly get to know her extra in person who weekend.”

He was additionally blown away by Sarah’s singing, which he calls “phenomenal.”

Whereas each Sarah and Travis have been eager about each other, they nonetheless didn’t know if their emotions have been reciprocated.

“The primary night time I used to be identical to, ‘We will sleep on my mattress or you’ll be able to sleep on the sofa,’ I didn’t need to be ahead or no matter. So he slept in my mattress. However he slept in his garments, like on high of the blanket. It was so cute,” says Sarah.

They spent the weekend speaking, filling within the gaps from their textual content and cellphone exchanges. The morning of Travis’ final day, the 2 organized to go to a winery. And earlier than they headed out, they kissed for the primary time.

“On the winery, we dressed up, and folks have been speaking to us like we’d been a pair for a very long time,” says Sarah.

“We simply organically match,” says Travis. “All the pieces simply form of went collectively. We weren’t clashing on something, it was a great circulate to our personalities and our experiences and the place we have been at in life.”

On the finish of the weekend, once they got here to say goodbye, Sarah began to tear up. It had been an ideal two days, and the considered being aside harm.

“I keep in mind simply sitting there and crying and being like, ‘That is a lot enjoyable. When are we going to do that once more?’ And he simply appears to be like at me – and once more, that entire factor of that consolation degree and never being embarrassed to talk our true emotions – he simply checked out me and he’s like, ‘I’m free subsequent weekend.’”

For Sarah, that’s when it clicked. They weren’t going to play video games, or faux to not be eager about each other. They have been each invested. They have been going to do the whole lot they may to make it work.

Here's Travis and Sarah in the Teton Range mountain range in Wyoming, part of the Rocky Mountains.

From there, Sarah and Travis alternated weekends collectively in New York or Philadelphia. And typically they’d head as much as the Appalachian Path collectively – their first trip was a week-long hike alongside the difficult Presidential Traverse trek within the White Mountains. They met each other’s family members – with Sarah’s associates completely happy to be reassured Travis wasn’t a “nut job from the woods” in spite of everything.

In the direction of the tip of that first 12 months of lengthy distance, the couple determined Sarah would transfer to Philadelphia.

“I believe I used to be at a degree in my life the place I used to be like, it’s a must to go for the issues that you simply assume are what issues,” says Sarah. “If it doesn’t work out, then at the very least we didn’t waste 5 years of this forwards and backwards. And if it does work out, then the earlier the higher. And we might simply begin our lives collectively.”

It was arduous, she says, being far-off from her New York help community. However after some time, Sarah and Travis took a leap into the unknown collectively, quitting their jobs and spending a 12 months touring throughout the US by automobile.

On a secluded black rock seaside on the Large Island of Hawaii in late 2016, Travis proposed to Sarah.

Sarah and Travis eloped in the Rocky Mountains, and later commemorated the moment with this photoshoot in the Adirondack Mountains.

“I made up an excuse to pause for a second and put my bag down for one thing after which I whip this ring out and get down and ask her,” Travis remembers. “It was superior. It was the whole lot I anticipated it to be and hoped it to be.”

Throughout their 12 months adventuring round America, the 2 bought married in Rocky Mountain Nationwide Park in Colorado. Sarah took Travis’ identify, changing into Sarah King.

“It was simply the 2 of us in the midst of a storm in our mountaineering garments on a path – identical to after we met – all grubby and gross and it was excellent,” says Sarah. “In Colorado, you’ll be able to marry yourselves – you don’t want a justice of the peace or something.”

The 2 later commemorated the event with a photograph shoot – Sarah in a marriage costume, Travis in a sensible vest – within the Adirondack Mountains.

“That journey, the place we had little or no, however we had one another and we had journey – that was identical to, we’re heading in the right direction, it doesn’t matter what life throws at us. We’re going to be okay,” says Sarah.

Here's Sarah and Travis pictured in Vermont in late 2022.

Immediately, Sarah and Travis reside collectively in a cabin within the woods in Vermont. Miles of trails and exquisite woodland at the moment are on their doorstep, prepared for them to get pleasure from collectively each time they like.

Travis says that as we speak, when he thinks again on how they met, he will get “goosebumps.”

Not solely have been they two strangers who simply occurred to cross paths on the Appalachian Path, due to a mislabeled map. In addition they managed to reunite by way of textual content, regardless of a improper quantity.

“To today, her identify in my cellphone is saved as ‘Sarah from the woods?’” says Travis, laughing.

“I completely get goosebumps interested by it and really feel so lucky that it occurred. As a result of Sarah’s my associate for all times.”

Immediately, Sarah likes to say the “W” on Travis’ map was an indication, and the “W” stood for “spouse.”

“What number of issues needed to align to place us in the identical place without delay and to attach and to search out one another once more, after?” she says.

“I believe typically it’s simple to lose sight of these forms of goosebumpy moments – after we’re fixing the bathroom or one thing and annoyed with one another. However then you definately keep in mind the whole lot that led us to that second, and why we’re nonetheless right here and why we’re nonetheless collectively and we need to be and it’s actually highly effective.”