Sunrise Hiking Elopement Near Aspen Colorado — Colorado Adventure Elopement Photographer

Marcela and Vasily

 

“We met over a broken bookshelf.”

That’s what Marcela and Vasily told me about the beginnings of their love story. While living on a tiny island of only about 800 people in Alaska, they were next door neighbors, who didn’t meet for a long time. Vasily remembers seeing Marcela eating at a local diner and hoping that she would come up to him so that he could meet her. When he found out she was his neighbor, his friends and co-workers joked with him that he should go ask to borrow a cup of sugar so he could meet her. Too shy to introduce himself,  one day Vasily saw a bookshelf that Marcela wanted rid of, and had left outside his door with a sticky note, as his chance. Marcela can’t remember what he said when they met but she remembers his smile and calling her mom afterward , joking that she had just met her future husband. Turns out, she was right.

Originally, Marcela and Vasily were planning an intimate wedding with other guests. When the planning started to stray from their original vision, they decided to refocus the day to be about just the two of them, without anyone else’s opinions or involvement. A few months before their big day, they switched to planning a two person intimate elopement, instead of a wedding. They wanted an epic elopement with both mountain views (Marcela's fave) and an intimate forest (Vasily's fave) so I found one of the most stunning hidden-gem hikes I've ever scouted near Aspen, CO—so that they could experience both on their day.

This trail is unnamed with no sign post or designation. It's not on any of the main hiking websites and forums we use as resources to help couples find their elopement destinations. This trail was buried deep on a site with just one person reporting on it. I did some research and found it was only a two mile hike up. So starting at 3 am, before sunrise, Marcela, Vasily and I met and started to hike up in the dark.

Hiking in the dark s a totally surreal & unique experience. You get a sort of "tunnel vision" as you can only see how far your headlamp will show you—and have no idea where the summit is. I find hiking in the dark to actually be easier than hiking during the day. During the day, you keep looking up, trying to find the summit while you hike. Sometimes it’s a false summit or you can psych yourself out by thinking “I have to hike WHERE?!” But when you hike before sunrise, you lose track of time. You’re not aiming for a specific spot in the distance, watching it slowly getting closer to closer. The only thing to focus on is putting one foot in front of the other and anticipating what it’s going to look like when you reach the summit. Hiking before sunrise means the hike actually gets more exciting as time goes on because you can slowly see more and more, as the dark outlines of the horizon become incredible vistas as it gets closer to dawn.

We reached the summit right before sunrise. Marcela and Vasily each chose a secluded spot to get dressed, choosing to change into their wedding clothes separately so they could have a first look. Marcela wore a gorgeous blush colored wedding dress, layered with blush and white, that blew so beautifully in the winds that roar across the Continental Divide. She tapped Vasily on the shoulder right at sunrise, surrounded by stunning mountain ridges. The views of the peaks at the summit reminded me of the mountains in Switzerland or the Italian Alps with their steep, jagged beauty. As the sun continued to rise, they said their vows, through frigid cold that made it hard to even put their handmade rings on each other’s fingers. Marcela and Vasily traveled to a jewelry shop and made their rings together by hammering them out of metal, which added a uniquely cool element to their day.

After their vows, they popped some champagne.We all sat and had breakfast and then wandered around on the ridge to take some photos as the sun came out and warmed the ridge. The mountains absolutely glowed as we walked. Even better, the wildflowers were just starting to be in full bloom at the top. It was lush, green and full of  the distinctive, blue "Forget Me Nots", Marcela’s favorite flower.

Vasily is originally from Ukraine and loves big forests. He was very excited when we decided to trek to the Maroon Bells as their second stunning location for the day. I found a magical aspen forest with huge, straight, tall, very old aspens that were perfectly aligned with a large natural aisle going down the huge hall of forest. Together, Marcela and Vasily hung up their pack hammock in this ethereal forest and took the opportunity to cuddle after saying their vows. We finished the day taking photos at the Maroon Bells, with more stunning mountain views.

Altogether, Marcela and Vasily got an entire day exploring together—with some of the most stunning mountain views I’ve ever seen, with only a four mile hike and an magical aspen forest to boot. They had started planning an intimate wedding but ended up with a day that was just about them, exactly what a wedding should be.

Contact us, if you'd like help planning your own unforgettable & unique elopement or intimate wedding. We'd love to help you create you own "you-centered" day.

 Marcela and Vasily started their elopement day hike before dawn, seeing only the stars and faint outlines of the mountains. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 With the hike illuminated only by their headlamps and a lantern, Marcela and Vasily begin to hike near Independence Pass, hoping to summit before sunrise for their intimate elopement. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Marcela and Vasily hike in the dark before sunrise, surrounded by the peaks of Independence Pass, Colorado, for their early morning self solemnizing elopement. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 The sun begins to rise at the top of Independence Pass outside Aspen, Colorado. Marcela and Vasily hiked two miles for their intimate elopement ceremony. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 With the sun beginning to rise, Marcela and Vasily hike to the summit above Independence Pass in Colorado's Rocky Mountains for their intimate two person elopement. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 The jagged peaks of the Sawatch Range above Independence Pass, between Aspen and Twin Lakes, glow as the sun begins to rise before Marcela and Vasily's intimate elopement. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Dark clouds give way to the pink glow of sunrise on the jagged peaks above Independence Pass. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Marcela and Vasily chose to get ready separately for their intimate elopement, even though they were the only two on the mountain top, so they could do a first look. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Vasily walks along the ridge above Independence Pass, outside Aspen, Colorado as he waits for his fiance so they can have an intimate first look at more than 12,000 feet elevation. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Marcela approaches Vasily for their intimate first look on top of a mountain ridge at the top of Independence Pass. Even though they had an intimate two person elopement, they were able to get ready separately and have a first look. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Marcela taps Vasily on the shoulder for their first look with the jagged peaks of the Sawatch Range of the Rocky Mountains behind them before their intimate two person elopement. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Vasily sees his fiance Marcela for the first time before their intimate two person self solemnizing elopement on the top of Independence Pass, outside Aspen, Colorado. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Surrounded by wildflowers and the pink glow of sunrise at more than 12,000 feet elevation, Marcela and Vasily share a kiss during their first look. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Wrapped in a blanket as alpine winds whip around her, Marcela wipes away a tear while Vasily reads his vows during their intimate two person self solemnizing elopement ceremony on the top of Independence Pass. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Surrounded by alpenglow as the sun begins to rise, Marcela and Vasily say their vows during their intimate elopement. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Marcela and Vasily read their vows to each other during their self solemnizing intimate two person elopement ceremony at the top of Independence Pass outside Aspen Colorado. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Vasily wipes away a tear reading his vows to his bride as the sun begins to rise around them above Independence Pass outside Aspen, Colorado. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Her blush wedding dress covered in a blanket to protect her from high winds at the top of Independence Pass, Marcela reads her vows during their intimate two person elopement ceremony. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Marcela and Vasily's intimate self solemnizing wedding included them reading their own vows, while surrounded by the high, jagged peaks of the Rocky Mountains. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Marcela and Vasily share their first kiss as man and wife on the top of Independence Pass, following their intimate elopement ceremony. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 With the jagged mountains of the Sawatch Range glowing pink around them, Marcela and Vasily share their first kiss after their intimate self solemnizing elopement ceremony. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 To celebrate following their intimate self solemnizing adventure elopement ceremony, Marcela and Vasily pop open a bottle of champagne on the top of Independence Pass, outside Aspen, Colorado. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Marcela and Vasily pop open a bottle of champagne after their intimate self solemnizing ceremony that they hiked to the top of Independence Pass for. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 To celebrate their elopement ceremony, Marcela and Vasily opened a bottle of champagne and drank it while surrounded by the jagged peaks of the Sawatch Range of the Rocky Mountains. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Marcela and Vasily embrace at the top of Independence Pass as the wind blows her blush colored wedding dress following their self solemnizing elopement ceremony. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Marcela and Vasily embrace at the top of Independence Pass after their intimate elopement, with only the two of them in attendance. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 With dark clouds and the jagged peaks of the Sawatch Range behind them, Marcela and Vasily walk along the ridge at the top of Independence Pass. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Stunningly jagged peaks lit by the rising sun loom before Marcela and Vasily as they walk away from their hiking elopement ceremony on the top of Independence Pass. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Marcela's blush wedding dress was layered with both blush and white layers. It blew beautifully in the wind on the Continental Divide above Independence Pass. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Newlyweds Marcela and Vasily share an emabrace on the top of Independence Pass following their intimate self solemnizing elopement. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Marcela and Vasily handmade their rings for their self solemnize elopement ceremony on the top of the Rocky Mountains at Independence Pass. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Marcela twirls her blush colored wedding dress with the jagged peaks of the Sawatch Range behind her after her elopement ceremony. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Marcela and Vasily hike down following their adventure elopement ceremony on the top of Independence Pass, outside Aspen Colorado. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Wearing her blush wedding gown, Marcela hikes down with her new husband Vasily, following their hiking adventure elopement ceremony on the top of Independence Pass. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Marcela and Vasily hike along the ridge at the top of Independence Pass after their elopement ceremony. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Marcela and Vasily embrace at the top of Independence Pass following their self solemnizing elopement as a bird flies behind them. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 The jagged peaks of the Rocky Mountain's Sawatch Range rise behind them as Marcela and Vasily embrace on the top of Independence Pass following their outdoor hiking elopement. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Marcela and Vasily embrace on the top of Independence Pass following their adventurous outdoor sunrise hiking elopement ceremony. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Marcela and Vasily embrace at the top of Independence Pass, outside Aspen, Colorado, following their hiking elopement ceremony. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Following their elopement ceremony at the top of Independence Pass, Marcela and Vasily hike through old growth aspen forests outside the Maroon Bells. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Old growth aspen forest towers above Marcela and Vasily outside the Maroon Bells following their outdoor self solemnizing elopement ceremony. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Marcela and Vasily run through a hall of old growth aspen trees outside the Maroon Bells outside Aspen Colorado. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 In old growth forests outside Aspen, Colorado's Maroon Bells, Marcela and Vasily hang a pack hammock following their outdoor elopement ceremony. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Marcela and Vasily hang a pack hammock from old growth aspen trees outside the Maroon Bells in Aspen, Colorado following their outdoor hiking elopement ceremony. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Following their hiking elopement ceremony at the top of Independence Pass, Marcela and Vasily cuddle in a pack hammock surrounded by old growth aspen trees outside the Maroon Bells. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Marcela and Vasily are dwarfed in their pack hammock, hanging between old growth aspen trees outside the Maroon Bells, following their intimate elopement ceremony at the top of Independence Pass. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Marcela and Vasily embrace outside in a pack hammock while surrounded by giant aspen trees in a forest outside the Maroon Bells in Aspen, Colorado. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 After their sunrise hiking elopement ceremony on the top of Independence Pass, Marcela and Vasily embrace in a hammock strung between two old growth aspen trees. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Surrounded by giant old aspen trees, Marcela and Vasily embrace following their intimate self solemnizing elopement ceremony. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Marcela and Vasily embrace while surrounded by old aspen trees following their elopement ceremony at the top of Independence Pass outside Aspen, Coloardo. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 With Colorado's famous Maroon Bells behind them, Marcela and Vasily embrace following their intimate elopement ceremony. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Marcela and Vasily ended their epic hiking elopement day with a trip to the famous Maroon Bells in Aspen, Colorado. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 The Maroon Bells of Aspen, Colorado make for a stunning background for Marcela and Vasily's intimate elopement day. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Marcela and Vasily embrace at the Maroon Bells, following their intimate elopement ceremony on the top of Independence Pass outside Aspen, Colorado. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.

Colorado Hiking Elopement Photographer & Guide: Maddie Mae 
Venues: "Trail that shall not be named" near Aspen, CO & the Maroon Bells
 


Hi! We're Amber & Maddie. We are adventurous elopement photographers & guides based in Colorado that travel worldwide to help fearless couples like you create your unforgettable, wildly different wedding experience—that is completely yours.

If you would like help dreaming up your intimate wedding day, a customized elopement location idea list just for you, planning tools, vendor recommendations, and a creative, laid-back, documentary approach to your adventurous wedding photography—we would love to help you make your adventure elopement dreams come true.

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