On a geological scale, the time that lapsed between when Niki and Doug Clark met each other and when they started to date was infinitesimally small.
Doug, an associate professor of geology at Western Washington University, and Niki, an EMT for Whatcom County Fire District 8, first crossed paths while Niki worked on her bachelor's and master's degrees in geology at Western.
They met in 2002, but it wasn't until years later, after Niki had graduated, worked for the National Park Service, and moved to Colorado and back, that the two reconnected at a glacier coring project at Mount Waddington in British Columbia. Niki had been hired to serve as the safety lead, and happened to have the geological background that would come in handy on the summer 2010 trip.
Both Niki and Doug love the outdoors. They run, camp, rock climb and mountain bike on a regular basis, so it was only fitting, Doug says, that he should figure out a way to propose to Niki out in nature.
He wasn't sure when would be the right time, but he knew he wasn't going to propose with a big, flashy diamond ring. That's not Niki's style.
"I was searching for ways to make representative rings, and found nothing," he says. "Then I was getting ready for fieldwork one day, working with climbing cord, and I decided to try making a ring out of it, with a climbing knot as the 'stone.'"
After a few attempts, and guessing what size would fit Niki's hand, he thought he had the cord about right. A few days later, while mountain biking Galbraith Mountain, they reached a viewpoint overlooking Bellingham Bay and the sun was "just right."
Doug popped the question.
Niki answered "yes," and they set to work hastily planning their wedding, which was set for only five months later so they could still have a summer ceremony. They married in August 2012.
After their first venue fell through because the space went into foreclosure, they rushed to find a new spot for their nuptials. Axton Road Bed & Breakfast came through, and they were able to host a 150-person wedding in the backyard.
Sticking with the geological theme, their programs were printed on the backs of old maps, and a string of paper hearts made from topographic maps served as decoration for the dance tent.
While the cord ring was great for Doug's proposal, they went with matching titanium bands for the long haul, because they're less likely than softer metals to become scratched during outdoor activities.
Their favorite moment from the big day was everybody chuckling after Doug picked Niki up to carry her down the aisle and the audience got their first glimpse at her shoes; cowboy boots.
True to their outdoor passion, their honeymoon was a 10-day road trip through the western U.S., full of backpacking, camping, paddle boarding, surfing and biking.
They now have a baby girl, Annika.