Lela and Zadok | Handies Peak Elopement
Savannah Chandler Photography | Colorado Hiking Elopement Photographer | 14er Elopements
Like so many 2020 couples, Lela and Zadok’s wedding day was very different from what they had originally planned. Lela is from the states, while Zadok is from the island of Trinidad and Tobago. They were looking to host their wedding day on the tropical island where Zadok’s family lives, and have all their friends and family out for a large celebration. Once COVID hit, both countries closed down their borders.
Though it may seem like a complete 180 turn from a tropical island wedding, our mountainous terrain is not far from their hearts. When I say Lela is a total badass, that is a complete understatement. She trekked up to Everest Base Camp (16,900 ft!!!), and has quite the mountaineer spirit. As Zadok stated, I believe that this “Plan B” was always a bit of “Plan A”.
To start hiking up to 14,058, we met at the upper American Basin trailhead. The basin its self is one of the most stunning areas I’ve seen here in Colorado. There are jagged mountains jetting out above a luscious green landscape. One thing I’ve learned about the San Juan mountains is how green everything is. You just don’t see greenery like that in the Denver area.
We hiked up by the light of our headlamps, to just below the technical summit. We started our morning at this stunning outcrop, as the winds were picking up and it looked as if a storm was heading our way. As anyone who spends time in high altitude knows, Colorado weather be CRAZY (an not something to mess with). We took a few minutes to capture the Alpenglow shining back on the basin, then started our way back up to the true summit.
Once we reached the tippy top of this stunning mountain, Lela and Zadok signed their marriage license and were married!! We were still a little worried about the weather moving in, so we started to hustle a bit. A slight amount of hail started to hit us, but only for a minute or two. Once we started to take portraits up on top of Handies, the clouds parted and we were greeted with (very welcomed) sunshine.
As we made our way down the mountain back into the American Basin, we stopped by the teal blue waters of Sloan’s Lake for a breather and some photos. The lake sits right at the edge of the basin and the talus field of Handies. The water was SO teal with hints of green. Since we had passed the lake in the dark on our way up to the summit, it was a stunning surprise to see how beautiful the lake truly was.
Concluding our time together, we all stopped in the flower field basin to take in the views one last time. Lela and Zadok had quite the cheer squad once we came down – everyone who was beginning their hike at that time stopped to say a quick congratulations.
Congratulations, Lela and Zadok! We had quite the adventure together! Thank you for spending your elopement day with me amongst the San Juan Mountains.