There's really nothing that compares to the experience of a hiking elopement.
We met at a trailhead at 2am in almost total darkness, and started hiking up—led only by the light of our headlamps and the moon and the stars. It's an amazing feeling to have an entire trail to yourself before sunrise—the quiet of the night broken only by the sounds of a rushing creek, a few insects chirping, and the wind through the trees. But the rest of the busy world that we all live in was still asleep.
After reaching the destination of our almost 6-mile hike just before dawn, I got this feeling inside of me that what we were about to experience would be unforgettable. As we had hiked up, our clear night had turned into a bit of a foggy morning with a lot of cloud cover. Sarah & Justin exchanged their hiking clothes for wedding clothes, and got ready by the soft pre-dawn light of the sky.
And then, right at sunrise, the clouds gently lifted off the lake, and the morning sun turned the entire mountain backdrop a vivid pink. It was the most ideal and stunning example of alpenglow that I have ever seen—as a hiker and a photographer. The perfectly still lake reflected Sarah & Justin like a mirror as they walked out to a rocky point in the water and prepared to say their vows. As they slipped each other's rings on their fingers, and sealed their commitment to each other, it felt like the whole world was standing still. It was instant in time when an elopement gets super real—that overwhelming feeling of "It's actually happening. I'm getting married. I get to spend the rest of my days with the love of my life." This moment takes my breath away each time.
I will absolutely never forget this incredible sunrise with these two amazing humans. I can't explain how honored I feel to get to be a part of a self-solemnizing hiking elopement. It blows my mind each time that I am the only person blessed to witness a couple commit their lives to each other—especially in a dream-like destination that we have all to ourselves at sunrise.
I often hike 12-15 miles with couples to say their vows somewhere incredible on their wedding day. Colorado is one of 4 states where you don't need an officiant to legally get married—and can "self-solemnize." I can't think of a better way to start the adventure of the rest of your lives together.