Like a lot of couples we work with, Heather and Zach were on the hunt for their dream elopement adventure and location. We spent a few weeks back and forth working through different visions, regions, hikes, permit processes and travel. It can be overwhelming when there are so many gorgeous locations and adventurous options to choose from. But little did we know when we first met, a pandemic of rippling effects would interfere- adding some extra layers of challenges. They landed on a gorgeous pocket in the North Cascades, that usually offers an easy-moderatey, dry, 2-4mi hike from the main parking area. But like a lot of other things in 2020… that didn’t happen. This area received an unusually large amount of snow fall over the winter. And because of all the park shut-downs and closures, the road to this parking area wasn’t plowed when it usually is.
So there’s only one way up: to hike the road covered in snow. And like the kick-ass couple they are- that’s exactly what they did.
One of the elements that took me by surprise capturing their details was this beautiful ring box. Come to find out – Zach is quite the talented craftsman. He not only designed, but made, both of the rings AND wooden leather ring box, too. Heather said when he first proposed, he was more excited about her noticing and explaining the box than her actual answer to his question. because he already knew it was a yes 😉
When your airbnb has fern and old growth vegetation in the backyard- you know you’re getting married somewhere dreamy. I love how many unique options for lodging are available through airbnb and vrbo. Lodging is an experience in itself and adds so much value to your elopement. Not to mention can make for some amazing photo opportunities.
heather and Zach
adventure elopement in north cascades National park, wa
There’s nothing like driving to your elopement destination for the first time and seeing all the landscape you’re getting ready to make memories in. Below you’ll see the start of our hike- at road closed gate (for vehicles) that usually is open this time of year (July). We met up with Kate (their officiant) and kicked-off our 4mi trek (out and back). Parts of the road were clear, while others, where the sun doesn’t hit as much, piled high with snow. Mother nature is wild, especially at this elevation and always makes for a fun part of our couple’s story. The day was warm, in the 80s, but yet the ground was covered in snow. But it didn’t bother us much—the cool air coming from the snow was actually refreshing as we were hiking up 1000ft elevation in the warm sun.
can you believe that below this white-out is normally a parking lot? we absolutely love that heather and Zach didn’t give up on their location and were down for the adventure. we texted an chatted regularly prior to their adventure, especially more with planning around covid, and as soon as we found out the road was going to be closed, we knew it wasn’t going to stop these two. they were more than ready to strap into some snow shoes and spikes if they needed. (because it was actively melting snow, and heavily traversed, it was pretty packed down, so snow shoes weren’t needed for this particular adventure.)
The entire top of the mountain ridge was still covered in snow – and only a few pockets (in the wide open) were dry to stand in. We found Heather the perfect little nook tucked into the tree side for me to help her change in, meanwhile Allen watched guard for hiking passerbys for Zach changing. Zach had no idea the type or color of dress/skirt Heather was going to be wearing — and this specific skirt was one Heather had her eye on for a long time. The gold against the forest green and blue sky is simply stunning.
I’ll never forget capturing Zach on their elopement day. At first, he was was calm, steady, strong. And then he saw Heather in her dress. And his eyes swelled. One of my favorite moments is always the first-look. It’s such a powerful moment, where emotions peak and that “holy shit this is real and it’s happening” feeling kicks in. Often times, your partner doesn’t have a clue what you’re wearing and the surprise is just so fun. Especially if you’re a couple that normally shares all life’s details. I hope this moment goes to show that even if you’re getting ready under the same roof, and hike to your ceremony to finish getting ready — there is still significant emotion seeing each other ‘finally’ ready for the first-time 🙂
some items always in our bag:
-bug spray, bear spray, TP + wipes, Sanitizer, first-aid kit, walkie talkies, spf, headlamps, hair pins, tape, knife, tweezers, protein bars, jerky, beer/champagne/whiskey .
pro tip: when spraying partner with bug spray, make sure to do it when they’re talking so it gets in their mouth and you leave a lasting impression. 😉
when allen and I had scouted this hike a couple days prior, this specific area where there ceremony is, was still covered in snow. we were so stoked when we got up here for the second time to see that this portion had melted so they could stand in the grass against the pines.
It wasn’t long into Kate’s powerful and beautiful ceremony script… before Heather and Zach didn’t stand a chance. We absolutely love how emotions are so unhindered and free flowing on elopement days. When it’s you two and Mother Nature, it’s a truly powerful, on-top-of-the-world feeling to share together, for the first time, now married.
As the sun was setting for their day over the range, it created the most beautiful shade behind the trees for portraits with the colorful mountain haze in the distance. We were hopeful in planning around the beautiful and famous alpine glow on Mt. Shuksan (which isn’t always possible, but definitely like to try). Allen and I had scouted a spot along the ridge a few days prior, perfect for that backdrop in mind, crossing our fingers Mother Nature would pull through. And she DID.
as soon as we got up the hill to see skuksan highlighted, we booked it to the ridge, knowing the alpine glow was soon to follow, and doesn’t last long.
our crafty couple also handmade their elopement signs – from driftwood they had picked up a few days prior along the olympic peninsula, and bought a wood burner kit to carve their names and date into.
for those unfamiliar with alpine glow – is a short period time at sunrise or sunset in the mountains, where the earth’s position to sun for last light (sunset) or first light (sunrise), essentially curves the earth’s surface to casts (what we see as) a red-pink glow on the mountain peaks. Positioning for this requires research and planning – something we love to do for our couples interested. If interested in this for your adventure, get in touch so we can help plan with you! Depending on your adventure in mind, depends on wether sunrise or sunset will be best; most areas it is only possible at one time of day.
In the true spirit of choosing whiskeysage – there is always time for a proper cheers, to relax and take in your moment.
shooting through sunset is such a fun experience and even more exciting when we get to adventure back in twilight with the headlamps. it’s a unique form of light and ambiance you simply don’t see in a lot of wedding galleries. making both the night sky and day sky a part of your day is something special. if moments captured under a night sky is something you’re interested in experiencing – plan around a new moon (no moon) in a dark sky area to enjoy the full effect of the starry skies at night.
We absolutely loved creating, planning and capturing with Heather and Zach. In a year where giving up seemed like the only option, and definitely the easier one, these two pushed through, were flexible with plans and took on the negative challenges with the best attitudes and spirit. By the time their day came around, we were all so thankful that it was even possible, that everything else seemed to be bonus. And honestly, when you you’re marrying your favorite person, somewhere incredibly scenic and inspiring, what more could you ask for? If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s be grateful for the simple things and what we do have. And we love how eloping aligns with that value.
H+Z – it was an honor to be your elopement photographers. Your trust means the world to us and how you handled every headwind was inspiring- not once giving up on your love and vision. Thank you for allowing us to a be a part of this unforgettable adventure and trusting us with your moments. Looking back on your adventure fills our hearts and are so proud to have been your elopement team!