Britany and Patrick | Uncompaghre Peak Elopement
Savannah Chandler Photography | 14er Elopement Photographer
Last July, I had quite a few elopements and engagement sessions in the San Juan mountains. I put out a feeler in some local Facebook Groups, seeing if anyone was looking to elope in the area and in need of a photographer – which is how I met Brittany and Patrick! Social Media has it’s downfalls, but being able to meet others from around the globe and the ability to communicate across so many boundaries is one of the greatest things that the internet has brought about.
We all met up the evening before Brittany and Patrick’s elopement to set up camp at the upper parking lot, with a 1:00am alarm for our 3.5 mile hike up to the summit of Uncompaghre Peak in the dark.
Morning came sooner than it felt like it should have (like always), and we were on our way up the gentle, winding slopes of the Uncompaghre National Forest trail. Ever since the amazing work that the Colorado 14ers Initiative put into reconstructing the trail, it’s such a pleasant and well maintained hike up to the rocky scramble leading to the summit. (the CFI does amazing work for the state of Colorado – you can check out their website HERE for more work that they’re putting into our trails and preserving our wilderness)
Just as the red sun began to break the smoky horizon, Brittany and Patrick found a spot amongst the rocks to say their vows to one another.
The summer of 2021 was one that was, unfortunately, full of smoke. You could see the line of smoke descending upon the San Juan mountains from atop the summit – we could tell we were about to be socked in and surrounded by hazy skies on our hike out. Smoky skies do make for some dramatic lighting though at sunrise – and the colors it provides always are stunning.
After some time up top, and I made sure to ask a random stranger to get my photo on the rocky outcropping, we headed down the path to take some photos on our way back to the trailhead.
I know not everyone enjoys the feeling of exposure, rocky outcrops, or standing where you’re close to the edge – however, this photographer does. Standing on the edge looking out onto Wetterhorn, Matterhorn, and even out to Handies peak was quite the surreal feeling. Of all the hiking I do, I personally LOVE summits and the feeling of euphoria that comes along with standing at the very tippy top of a mountain.
On our way back to camp, we ran into a few hiking groups that were on their way up the trail. One was a group of researchers that were observing the flight patterns of the rare Uncompaghre Butterfly – which we were told are only to be found on this trail and Redcloud peak. They’re tiny little beings that flittered around our heads nearly the entire hike back.
I had such a great time hiking with you for your elopement – Brittany and Patrick! I love watching all the amazing things you’re up to on Social Media and seeing the mountains that you’re coming back to Colorado to climb.