I propped up my phone on an overlook of Sahalie Falls to record 30 or 40 seconds of the calming environs. Then the unexpected happened.

Koosah falls oregon
J.D. Simkins
Koosah Falls is a short walk from Sahalie Falls, where I stumbled upon an outstanding coincidence.

A little over a year ago I found myself in Oregon’s Willamette National Forest, trekking in the neighborhood of 14 miles up and down the bustling McKenzie River.

It was the first time I’d experienced the quintessential Pacific Northwest. The sights of evergreens, a soothing rush of a river that rendered one waterfall after another, intoxicating aromas of hundreds of thousands of Douglas firs. Every sense was engaged.

And while I was able to enjoy the same type of Willamette-induced sensory recalibration during a recent Fourth of July weekend visit, this go-round just happened to yield a different type of engagement.

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After entering the McKenzie River trail system near Koosah Falls, I first made my way northeast toward Sahalie Falls, an area closed to hikers the last time I visited. With access abundant this time around, I propped up my phone on an overlook area to record 30 or 40 seconds of the calming environs.

Only, this didn’t turn out to be the sort of zen-focused recording I’d done innumerable times before. By sheer happenstance, a marriage proposal unfolded seconds after I pressed record.

Shortly after climbing down to the bottom of the 100-foot Sahalie Falls, I came across the newly engaged couple. We exchanged information, they OK’d the sharing of the above content, and we went our separate ways. Two days later, newly engaged Ashley Shortridge shared her news on Instagram.

“After 8 years, 3 months, & 10 days of being his, each day filled with love, laughter, adventure & pure bliss, at waterfall number 66, surrounded by most of our closest friends, he asked me to be his wife,” Shortridge wrote.

Needless to say, this was easily one of my favorite things to have stumbled upon in the outdoors—and what a great site for it.

Here’s to many years of joy for this happy couple. It was a pleasure to meet you both. Cheers.