A sunrise hiking elopement with epic mountain views on one of our favorite trails in Washington? When Linda & Ryan first reached out and described the vision for their elopement, let’s just say, we were immediately stoked. This was a “heck yes” adventure from the very start. Why is that? Washington state is one of the best destinations for alpine adventures and hikes. Not only does Mount Rainier have some of the greatest bang-for-your-buck trails in the state, but the park holds personal significance to Linda & Ryan as well. From the beginning, they both knew this was where they were meant to elope, and it was our honor to join them and one of their closest friends for this early morning adventure.
An Early Start and a Fire Lookout Tower
It was early July, and the road to the Sunrise area of Mount Rainier NP had only recently opened for the season. This made it tricky to anticipate the trail conditions so early in the season, but we came prepared for whatever was in store. The five of us met at the trailhead around 2AM and strapped on our ice spikes for the still wintery trek up. The trail began snow covered at first, but eventually we were met with a clear path towards Mount Fremont.
We built a solid buffer into our hike time and arrived up at the fire lookout with plenty to spare before sunrise. For any hiking elopements, especially with moderate to challenging hikes, it’s always wise to budget more time than you would usually need to get to your chosen location. Trust us, you’ll want the option to take breaks. You may want to stop and enjoy the view, take photos, or just keep yourself feeling fresh.
Weather wise, we hit the jackpot this morning. There was no wind chill, no cloud cover blocking the view, and the temperature was already pretty comfortable. Conditions in the mountains can change quickly though, so if you plan on having a mountain hiking elopement you’ll want to make sure everyone can stay comfortable and happy by being prepared.
Here are some packing tips for eloping outdoors when it may be chilly:
- Bring cozy blankets and cute but functional outer layers that you wouldn’t mind being photographed in.
- Dress in layers that you can easily take on and off throughout the hike.
- Pack an insulated bottle of coffee, tea or another yummy warm beverage, or bring along a jet-boil to make some once we arrive.
- Load up on hand and toe warmers that can be tucked in shoes and gloves.
The biggest perk to eloping at sunrise is getting to avoid a majority of the crowds. This particular location is very popular (because who wouldn’t want to witness those 360 degree views?), but there weren’t many other hikers around this early in the day.
First Look at First Light and a Sunrise Ceremony
After changing under the glow of headlamps and lanterns, we waited for a few minutes until the light felt just right. With Mount Tahoma filling our entire view, Linda & Ryan shared their first look together seemingly on top of the world. Once the sun started to rise, the light changed quickly and cast brilliant shades of pinks, reds and oranges onto the surroundings.
Linda & Ryan also brought along a very close friend to officiate. He crafted a beautiful heartfelt ceremony, and not only that, was able to help carry the picnic supplies, Linda’s dress, and kept the good vibes going all day. When deciding on whether to invite guests to your elopement, think about who will be there for you to elevate your experience. Will they be up for your entire adventure and offer support along the way?
Post-Ceremony Picnic and a Sunny Late Morning Hike
All morning we were gifted the clearest skies ever, and Ryan was able to point out all of his favorite peaks and trails within the park while enjoying a breakfast picnic together. Mount Rainier leaves an impression on everyone who visits, but for Ryan & Linda, they also had so many past memories in the park to reminisce on.
After taking in the views and enjoying our snacks, it was time to begin the journey back down to the trailhead. What had been hidden from us under the moonlight was now on full display for our adventure back. Had we really just hiked past all of this before? After exploring a few more iconic stops on this side of the National Park, we left Ryan & Linda to enjoy their happily ever after, and the rest of their wedding day…and it was only noon! Time really does fly out in nature: even after ten hours of adventure, it felt like we had only just gotten started!
No two days will ever feel the same up here, even on the very same trails you’ve traveled before. Mount Rainier has so much to offer adventure lovers. If you’re considering your very own mountain hiking elopement…add this place to the top of your list.
Washington State Adventure Elopement Packages
As Pacific Northwest based elopement photographers, we know the ins and outs of this area and can help pair you with the perfect locations and activities to give you the “hell yes!!”, once-in-a-lifetime wedding experience. Check out more of our Washington state elopement resources: