Katie and Tanner's Epic Love Story

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How to even write about this trip slowly makes me lose my mind. How I describe it was:

Life Changing.

Myself, Tanner, our best friends David & Bri, Tanner’s Dad Tim, Brother Ryan and Cousin Julie set off into the High Sierras of Yosemite for a 5 day 40 mile terrain backpacking trip to their family heirloom – “Hosses Pond”.

It has been a mere 5 months since we went and I am just now getting around to posting these images I hold so dearly to my heart. This was an adventure, each our own. I got engaged. I learned what it meant to seriously camp. I carried my own weight. I pushed myself to a hard limit. I fished. I saw beauty every second. I loved it.

I lugged around my 7 pound film camera (and trust me every pound counted) & nearly 20 rolls of film that I will be posting in parts because seriously, I took so many photos.

Preface – Tanner’s Grandfather Virgil Hoss is an avid outdoors man, fisher and backpacker. Between the 1960’s-1980’s he wrote for various articles and published photos for Outdoor Magazine about his hiking and backpacking trips. Hosses Pond is an unofficially named pond that Tanners grandfather found in 1960. The Hoss family has taken this backpacking trip so many times over the past 50 years. At 87 years old now, he still makes all his own fishing lewers and gave us the map to carry on his legacy. State parks requires a person to be dead for 5 years before lakes/ponds in the forest can be named after anyone. This in fact is a goal of the Hoss family to carry this amazing trip to future generations and friends and to have this pond named after Virgil when the time comes.

Day 1 we started off our trip at Tanner’s Aunt and Uncles house in Sanger, CA (about a 5 hour drive from LA – only about an hour from our starting point at Courtright Reservoir). Here we got to rest up, eat a huge meal and check out their farm animals. The next morning we were off.

Day 2 was a 10 mile hike into the forest, it was not necessarily my favorite. It was hard. Carrying the most amount of weight (your tent, food, water, clothing) and getting a feel for where we were. You pump and purify your own water, you come across beautiful meadows, little ponds and lakes filled with fish, take 10 minute breaks on huge boulders, & your surrounded by trees. We did get lost.. only missing a turn by about a 1/2 mile and once the sun started to set we set up camp and were ready to eat and sleep as soon as possible.

Day 3 we woke up refreshed and ready to get to Hosses Pond.

So we packed our campsite up and started our hike. On this day it was a short 5 miles into the woods until we found a breaking and a massive concrete mountain to climb up. Oh and we climbed it and found our destination on top a mountain, there is where we found our beautiful pond.

Once reaching the top, I can’t tell you how beautiful it really was. Trees, views, and a beautiful pond. It felt like being a little kid again, dreaming of being in your own world. We spent the afternoon jumping into the water, laying in the sun, fishing, throwing rocks and creating my favorite campsite of the week.

Day 4

We got engaged September 1st, 2013 in a beautiful meadow in the High Sierras of Yosemite. Below if you dare to read is a true story in my head that I never want to forget detail to detail of who we are.

I dreamed of this day my entire life. If you told me this is where and how and who, I would have never guessed. I never knew Tanner was the one when I met him. I was 16 he was 17, I remember my exact outfit I was wearing the day he finally said hello to me at school. White pants and an emerald green top, my hair was curled and up in a pony tail. As a back story, I was the new girl. A junior in high school, in a new state (originally from Arizona) and completely new, completely lost. I knew only a few people at my new school at the time & for some reason we met – I wasn’t in any classes with him, I didn’t have any mutual friends, I didn’t really even know anyone at this point. Somehow.. I wish I knew how, but Tanner found out my AIM screenname, to this day, katieboink, and that same night after that easy “I know who you are, you know who I am” look – a simple “new instant message” on my computer that one friday night appeared & we hung out.

Our friendship was immediate. He had a girlfriend so it was never a romantic thing. It was a moment, I don’t know what it was, or why he called me to hang out, or why I even met up with him and his group of friends. I have oddly always had a handful of amazing guy friends, and still do to this day, but he was immediately one of them. He then introduced me to so many people I love and cherish today. I finally, 4 months into being at a new high school let my guard down and started opening up. If I could explain how hard a world it is out there, starting at a new school at 16 – I don’t even know where to begin. He helped me make friends, and gave me confidence. My junior year of high school was by far one of the most influential years of my life. Tanner was there for me when I lived alone with no parents, ate pancakes for dinner with me when I had nothing else to eat on Thursday nights and even gave me a ride home on prom night around 4am laughing watching the sun come up in his old shifty truck. If you can’t tell by now, I am an extreme romantic.

Our friendship continued on through the next few years. I moved home to finish my senior year of high school in my hometown of Arizona. It was then when I remember our first kiss. It was December of 2006, I went back to California to visit friends and we found each other at a party, snuck away and finally had a moment. Not going to lie, it was such a perfect first kiss that I know if he is reading this right now he can recall the moment perfectly. Afterwards we smiled and laughed about it, that was the biggest thing with us, we were just friends. It was always just fun and nothing serious, just two best friends having a moment. That year I occasionally visited and went on snow trips, we would always sneak random kisses on ski lifts… and think nothing of them. That’s just who we were. We were extreme flirts to each other at certain moments, then the next, tell me all your secrets let me help you out with your “real romance” problems and offering advice to each other. I remember coming out for my senior prom and him being there watching me curl my hair and taking photos with me before I left.. he was always just there for me, he was my best friend,nothing more nothing less.

In May of 2007 I was graduating and asked a few friends from California to come out and celebrate with me, it was then when I started to realize that he really did care. He came down on his own flight for the weekend to celebrate. I can recall a moment in the kitchen with my mom asking me, “so whats up with tanner?” to which I replied “he’s just my best friend” – my mom knowing me gave me an eyebrow up to which I then followed with “he’s not a guy you just date, he’s a guy you marry”. To this day my mom will mark my words. I was 17, I didn’t want to touch the relationship I had formed with Tanner, it was from my point of view perfect the way it was.

Time moved forward, I enjoyed my last summer in Arizona and in the fall I moved without regrets and started over, yet again at age 18 in Los Angeles to attend college. I surrounded myself and got lost in Hollywood for my first semester of college, I mean what girl wouldn’t. I enjoyed myself, made new friends and spent too much time out drinking underage and dancing at nightclubs in hollywood, it was in fact such a thrill. As my second semester in college approached me and Tanner started making more time for eachother, our friendship had in fact drifted. To put it short, April of 2008 we finally had a breakthrough of “we can either be something, or be nothing” I couldn’t hold back the real feelings I had for him any longer, I was going through my last adolescent stage of life and was sick of having this flirtationship with him and wondering if there was ever something real to be had with him. He at the time was caught between his high school relationship and me. Me being who I am asked him to make a choice, which he did. We then didn’t see, speak, talk, look, touch, or even internet stalk eachother for 6 months, he chose her and I accepted that fact with respect. At the end of the day I loved Tanner as my friend and at least I knew I put myself out there.

The months I spent purposely making sure I didn’t run into him and having his number deleted out of my photo are a blur, I know I didn’t deserve it the choice he made, but it was his and his only. Now looking back I am so thankful. It gave me more time to myself. Time for me to grow up and be me. I remember receiving a text from him on my birthday the summer that we were not on speaking terms, I remember the way I felt when I looked at it. I knew it wasn’t the end of us. He needed to grow and learn too. It really is true, time is all we have. Time together or apart I was fine with the stage in my life where I chose not to speak to Tanner.

It was then in November of 2008 when my heart stopped late one night at a friends beach house (wink wink Kyler). I was there and he was there. The first time in 6 months that we had seen each other. You would think we would hate each other, but instead we both acted as if nothing had happened we laughed the night away with our friends, I blocked out all the “bad” that night because sometimes that’s what you have to do to grow up and move on with your life. We clicked again, we were friends, we still had that bond. I truly don’t think you come across it often, for me only twice in my life, I guess I always have believed in the soul mate fairytale shit, but how the hell did I seriously find it?

Tanner called me the next week and asked me if he could take me out to dinner, and the rest is history.

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Now in 2013, 8 years since we met I woke up in a tent at a beautiful campsite, one that has belonged to my boyfriends family for 50 years. I ate pancakes that morning made by his dad and walked around hosses pond by myself taking a few scenery photos of the lake a view around us. It was the first day of our hiking trip that we didn’t have to pack up our campsite. We took off that day, fishing poles in hand no weight or heavy backpacks and started our day hike to go fishing in a nearby lake about 5 miles away.

Little did I know, Tanner had been planing this day for quite some time. He designed a custom black diamond engagement ring 6 months prior to the trip. His dad had it in his backpack the first three days of the trip. My best friends Bri and David knew, his brother and his cousin knew too, they all knew this was the day. Everyone but me.

We were about 2 miles into our hike when we decided to take a little break, drink some water and then continue on. The weather perfect blue skies with huge puffy white clouds everywhere. About 5 minutes after taking that break Tanner stopped us all in the middle of this beautiful meadow again, and I at the time was wondering why the hell we were stopping.. we just took a break we are almost to the lake lets just keep going. Tanner then insisted that he wanted a photo with me in the meadow, I now recall everyone acting sort of weird all morning to me, sort of quiet. Little did I know David had turned on the gopro to record the entire thing. I remember it so clearly, I passed the film camera to Bri to take a photo, fumbled with the light setting and went to the spot where I then waited for tanner to pose a smile with me, at that moment he turned and asked me. In David’s go pro video you can see tanner and his dad passing off the ring while I was over talking to Bri about the camera settings, it’s so funny to see how clueless I was.

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And that was it, we stood in front of our best friends and Tanners family crying and hugging each other for a few minutes. Soaking it all in. He couldn’t have planned a better time or place. Pulling ourselves together we moved forward and he took me fishing the rest of the afternoon.

You couldn’t pull the smile from our faces the rest of the day, it is something I will never forget.

My favorite quote that reminds myself of me and Tanner is:

“I saw them standing there pretending to be just friends, when all the time in the world could not pry them apart” – Brian Andreas

Every time I read it I smile. We have such a fire for each other it is at this point un-do-able.

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That is that, there are so many more moments to this story and so much in between and photos to remember it all by. We are now 24 & 25 and we got to grow up together, but in this non-aggressive yet crazy passionate way. Marriage isn’t the end point final goal for us, we each have our own dreams and our own worlds and I can do nothing but appreciate our story and who we are together. I think only a few of our friends really know the love we share and the fire we have for each other. I can do nothing but hope that my loved ones have the same thing. This aching, never wanna stop, never want to give up on you, love. That’s him to me, he is so apart of me.

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Thank you Tanner for asking me to be yours, as if it at this point was even a question. I still can’t believe this is all real, because it still feels like a dream to me.

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Tanner and Katie are both photographers! You can follow them on instagram: @tannerkhoss and @katieboink