Though he was a couple of years older, Andy Herum and his wife, Ashley, attended the same prom– with different dates– and they didn’t manage to bump into each other on the dance floor. Later, they had friends who lived in the same apartment building at the same time, but the Herums didn’t meet in that building either. In fact, they both grew up in Grass Valley, and their families were friends for most of their lives, but the Herums didn’t cross paths until June, 2011, when they danced all night at the wedding of mutual friends. “The whole family talks about how there was something in the air that night,” Ashley said. “Sparks were flying.”
During a recent lunch, the Herums reminisced about their budding romance, and Andy remembered how beautiful Ashley looked in her blue dress, and how much he liked her smile. “That dress has become infamous in our family,” Ashley said. “I wore it to our wedding rehearsal dinner.”
You may be wondering what this love story has to do with Placer Land Trust. As it happens, a couple of months before that memorable evening, Andy volunteered at PLT’s grand opening of Harvego Bear River Preserve and fell so in love with the property and the plan to build 20 miles of hiking trails to connect with Hidden Falls Preserve that he signed up to be a PLT hiking docent. It made sense, then, that when falling in love with the woman who would become his wife, Herum would invite her to join him on a hike at Harvego. It was their third date. “It was kind of a test to see if I could cut it,” Ashley laughed. “Nature is a big deal for both of us.”
As they were hiking the trail, Ashley said, she and a few other women pulled ahead of the pack, and Andy whistled to call the group back together. “His whistle seemed so familiar, and I immediately responded to it,” Ashley said. “One of the women in the group asked how long we’d been together. It seemed like a sign.”
After that hike, the couple kicked up their boots on Andy’s front porch, munched on bread and cheese, washed it down with a cold beer, and had “the big talk” about their future together. “Our relationship happened pretty fast,” Ashley said. “But when you know, you know.”
The Herums were married 11 months later, at Stonehouse Bar & Grill in Nevada City. They live in Auburn and together they have four children. Family life hasn’t slowed the young couple down, though. Ashley teaches pilates at Auburn Racquet Club, and in addition to working as an engineer, Andy still leads several hikes per year, but now he brings his 11-year-old daughter along for the adventure. He’s also lead steward of the Canyon View Preserve with Ashley and their infant son as his helpers, hiking the preserve once a week to keep an eye on it.
Now, we at PLT are not promising that a hike at one of our preserves will lead you to the love of your life, but a stroll through the woods is one way to add romance to any relationship. It certainly worked for the Herums. “It was that hike that really sealed the deal,” Andy said.
If you’re interested in attending one of PLT’s free hikes, check out our calendar.