Brit and Travis | Blue Lakes Hiking Elopement | Two Day Elopement
Savannah Chandler Photography | Telluride Elopement Photographer
Brit and Troy’s Multi-Day Elopement | Day One | Hiking to Blue Lakes
Brit and Troy were looking for a few things for their Colorado Elopement in the San Juans – a sunrise ceremony and portraits at Blue Lakes outside of Ridgway, and sunset photos into blue hour to get some photos with their rooftop tent.
When they were researching locations – they saw photos from Lola and Jason’s blue lakes elopement (which you can view HERE) and knew that they wanted to overlook the lakes with Dallas Peak in the background for their sunrise elopement.
The hike to Upper Blue Lakes is moderate to hard, depending on how much you hike at altitude (and how heavy your pack is!). It’s roughly 4.5 miles one-way to the upper lake with 2500 feet of gain. The lower lake is roughly 3.2 miles one-way with 1700 feet of gain. The steepest part of the entire trail is once you pass Lower Blue Lake and head up towards the Upper Lakes. There are multiple river crossings involved to Upper Blue – which depend on the time of year as to the water levels. For Brit and Troy’s September elopement, we had very minimal water to contend with.
You can also access the lakes via. Yankee Boy Basin from the Ouray side, and hike up and over Blue Lakes pass just beneath Mt. Sneffels (which is an awesome summit to hike if you’re in the mood for a Class 3 14er). This hike is best with a 4×4 and you get spectacular views from Blue Lakes Pass.
Fall Weather in Colorado | The Mountains can turn to winter quickly
Late September may have mild temperatures in the Denver and foothills areas – but it can also mean winter at higher elevations.
When we began to look at weather for the week of their elopement, we noticed that Mt. Sneffels was set to get 5-7″ of snow and the lakes were going to be at or below freezing temps with sleet at the best, snow at the worst. Colorado be crazy and the weather can come in at any point in time.
Over the course of about 10 hours, we moved their elopement day up by 2 days – meaning a very late night entry into the Ridgway area for us with a very early morning start for some Star/Milky Way images. As my husband says every year – I’ll sleep when the snow stays on the ground.
We did indeed miss all of the moisture and get clear skies for our sunrise time together! And the day of their original elopement did indeed have snow come to higher elevations (over a foot in some mountain areas). Was it cold that morning? Yes, it certainly was. Did I buy a heated vest after their elopement? I sure as heck did. Was it better than trudging through snow and inclement weather? YUP.
Sometimes plans change. Especially with high altitude elopements.
Brit and Troy’s Blue Lakes Elopement Day | The Deets and Downlow
My awesome friend, and fellow amazing photographer, Natalie was able to shift plans to head out to Ridgway with me in that 10 hours we had between making the call to switch days, and leaving for the San Juans. We hopped in the Jeep, and got to Ridgway at about 8pm with a midnight alarm and a 1am hiking start.
We headed up on the trail in the dark with our 43lb photo bags (including a blanket, tripod, AD200 light, and backpacking chair alongside regular hiking equipment) and met Brit and Troy at the Upper Lake just before 4am.
Brit and Troy had backpacked in the night before to the upper lake (I’ve always wanted to stay at the upper lake overnight) – so we met them up top and got ready to photograph some Star Images. I always take “canvas shots” for star images incase we need a background image to pull from.
We spent roughly 30ish minutes getting star images with the Milky Way right over the Middle Blue Lake and next to Dallas Peak. It was absolutely stunning out – you could see all the stars with the naked eye. In between takes, Brit and Troy put their coats on as it was about 26ºF outside.
While we awaited the sunrise, Brit and Troy continued to get ready and break down camp. The first light came up over the horizon and we took a few photographs looking out over Middle Lake and then headed downhill in search of warmer temps and hoping for less biting winds.
We got just that at the Overlook – it was quite a bit warmer and the winds in the area were significantly less.
Brit and Troy said their vows – which included some hilarious bits about hiking up to Blue Lakes and how they’ll forget the miserable parts when they turn 60.
As we continued on our way down, we stopped at the Lower Blue Lakes to bask in some sunshine, have a first dance at the lake’s edge, and take in the beauty of the teal waters that are so unique to the San Juan mountain range lakes.
We continued on our way back to the cars, stopping a few times for some photos.
Our original plan was to reconvene that evening at Velocity Basin for their night images – but with the impending weather moving in (as well as the lack of sleep and altitude setting in), we decided to meet back up later in the week at Twin Lakes near Aspen. Those images will be up shortly 🙂
Thanks again for adventuring, and being seriously Badass troopers. Congratulations, Brit and Troy!!