Updated Thursday, March 22, 2012 at 09:01 PM
the Trail |
He fidgets with his wedding band, twisting it, squeezing it a bit, just to make sure it's there.
"I can't help it," Matt Alderman apologizes. "I still can't believe it."
Alderman, a program manager for a Seattle interactive-media company, had lost the ring during a five-mile hike at Wallace Falls State Park in August.
There's nothing more important to him than his wife, Mari, and two children, ages 9 and 12. The wedding ring that represents his family bond is right up there, too.
Last August, Alderman, 39, took his family on his favorite hike, as his dad had done with him while he was growing up in Marysville.
Wallace Falls, on the western edge of the Cascade Mountains, 2 miles outside of Gold Bar, is a popular family hike — moderate, with a few steep areas, but easy enough that you often see kids and retirees on the trail.
The 2.7-mile hike to the top affords a view of the fast-flowing Skykomish River snaking through the valley. The Olympic Mountains look grand on a clear day.
But Alderman believes the prime scenic spot is 2.3 miles into the hike, at Middle Falls, at the belly of the 265-foot waterfall.
"It's just so majestic," said Alderman, who took Mari there on a date when she was an exchange student at the University of Utah. "It's like staring at a work of art that's in motion."
He remembers as a kid being in awe of the falling water — the sound of it, the cool air brushing his face. He wanted his children to experience it, too.
But somewhere along the hike, Alderman's ring slipped off his pinkie. (His wedding band doesn't fit on his ring finger anymore.)
Distressed, he posted an alert about his lost ring on the Washington Trails Association's trip reports, sort of a Yelp for hikers.
He held little hope of finding it.
"I love this trail, and now all I had was this bad memory of the place," Alderman said. "I honestly didn't want to go back (to Wallace Falls) ever again."
You know who else loves this trail? Trever and Kimberly Olsen, of Bothell.
In December their family of six hiked to Wallace Falls. The couple enjoyed the panoramic view of the valley. Their four sons enjoyed racing down the trail.
Their father shouted, "Don't get too far ahead!"
Once out of their parents' sight, the boys waited by a bench.
There, 12-year-old Skylar saw a shiny object in the dirt, a platinum ring with gold trim.
In this Internet age, the Olsens did what a lot of us do when we search for answers — they Googled "lost ring" and "Wallace Falls." Alderman's post popped up.
Over email, Alderman confirmed the ring's inscription read, "M & M 3-21-96," his wedding date.
On Christmas Eve, Alderman didn't tell his wife why they were going to a stranger's home.
She burst into tears when she saw the lost ring in a stranger's hand.
The Aldermans celebrated their 16th anniversary Wednesday, a date more special than past anniversaries, Alderman said.
And as the perfect way to mark this special occasion, they're planning a return hike soon to their favorite place, Wallace Falls.
Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @tanvinhseattle.
Wallace Falls State ParkWhere
Take Highway 2 (Stevens Pass highway) east 12 miles from Monroe to Gold Bar. Once in Gold Bar, follow the signs two miles northeast to the park.
A $10 one-day pass, or a Discover Pass ($30 annually), is required for parking in the park unless you are registered in the campground.
ALAN BERNER / THE SEATTLE TIMES
Matt Alderman lost his wedding ring on a Wallace Falls State Park hike last August, but the ring was found months later, making for a special Christmas.