It was the worst of times then it was the best of times as a couple climbed toward base camp at Mt. Everest.
(WBIR-Oak Ridge) It was the trip of a lifetime that became even more special.
A trip of a lifetime featured a promise of a lifetime commitment. Emily Stroud and Kevin Umberger
He's a surgeon at Tennessee Orthopedic Clinic in Oak Ridge. Dr. Daniel Branham also climbs mountains. Tall mountains including the tallest: Mt. Everest.
"Spent several years training and getting ready. 2013 was our launch date," he recalled.
His girlfriend, Cassidy, is from Florida where there are no mountains.
"I really wanted to go. I thought it would be the experience of a lifetime," she said.
So they set out on an adventure slowly climbing toward base camp 17,000 feet high, acclimating along the way.
"I was hoping base camp would be my destination because there's some possibility you can't make it all the way. I mean breathing becomes exhausting. Taking two steps and you were feeling like you were running four miles. It's hard. It's tiring," Cassidy said.
Daniel had a specific spot in mind to stop along the way.
"One of the highest monasteries on the southern approach to Everest is the Tengboche Monastery. And there's a real cool spot on the ridge behind the monastery where you can look up and down the whole Kumba Valley," he said.
He had an important question to ask Cassidy.
"I was a bit nervous. I didn't want to do it too late when we were both feeling really sick and disgusting.I thought that wouldn't be good for my chances of her saying yes. But I wanted to get her kind of worn down where she didn't have any escape routes and we had her on a ledge so she had to say yes so that was a good kind of in between," he said.
She said, "I was feeling really awful. It was one of the worse days I ever had actually."
He said, "I think she said she was cold and she wanted to go back so I was actually trying to physically hold her. So because I was having to hold her I wasn't able to get down on one knee. But she said yes anyway so it worked out."
She said, "I was so happy I couldn't do anything but cry. It was such a magical place."
He said, "Of course it's a very special event, a very special place, and a very special memory."
She stayed at base camp and he continued up Mt. Everest. The night he was supposed to reach the top of the 29,000 foot mountain he experienced some serious health issues.
"I made what I believe was the right decision and came down with all digits and all extremities and a good story and great memory but no summit," he said.
He came back to a fiancée who became his wife last October. Daniel and Cassidy Branham said their I dos and put something else on their to do list.
Cassidy said, "I would love to go back. I say in 10 years we should do that."