Something New, Something Blue
Caleb “Big Spoon” and Claire Miller
Engineer, Columbus McKinnon / Author
In 2015, Claire quit her job in Chattanooga to trade fluorescent lighting for a view from nature’s window. With a backpack and a one-way ticket to California, she set out to hike the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail – solo. She sought adventures worth writing about. Fifty miles in, trudging through heavy downpours, a rain-slogged Claire entered a restaurant and a new chapter.
“There was only one seat left at the table, and it was at the head,” says Claire, who joined like-minded hikers. “At the other head, probably 20 feet down, was Caleb. I’d never talked to him before and out of nowhere he said to me, ‘Good you made it; now we can begin.’”
Caleb didn’t know how right he was. “I definitely had my eye on her,” says the New Jersey native whose trail name is Big Spoon. “She’s out in the wilderness, which for a girl to go on this journey alone took a lot of guts. This girl is not the ordinary girl you meet.”
Claire had tied her hair up in a colorful bandana. Packing light, Caleb only had two outfits. “He was wearing a bright blue shirt, and it was before it got super faded from the sun and stained from trail living,” she says. “He was so striking.”
“For a girl to go on this journey alone took a lot of guts. This girl is not the ordinary girl you meet.”
Though intrigued, Claire left without scooting closer. They met again on a hot afternoon in the southern California desert. “I’m drinking water and up comes Caleb,” says Claire. “He sits down on a rock, takes off this size-14 boot, whips out a giant pocket knife, and cuts a giant blister off his toe.” An unconventional wooing technique in the modern world, but an everyday fact of trail life – it connected. “I’m thinking, yeah, I’m interested in this person,” says Claire.
Hiking together 24 hours a day revealed deeper bonds. “You can’t hide behind makeup and fancy clothes and all the stuff you own,” says Caleb. “Your life is on your back, and you’re seeing the truest form of this person.”
Thirty days after beginning separate journeys, they married at mile 445. “We believe divine intervention on the trail and from God led to our marriage,” says Claire. The bride in boots remembers thinking, “I’m so glad I brought a white shirt. Even though it’s stained and dirty by this point, it was still white like a real wedding shirt.”
Nicknamed the Honey Spooners, they now have two Little Spoons of their own. CS