Katrina and Sean | Snowmass Lake Elopement | Multi Day Backpacking
Savannah Chandler Photography | Colorado Adventure Wedding Photographer
Katrina and Sean had fallen in love with Snowmass Lake on their hike of the Four Pass Loop in 2020 – knowing that they wanted to return to the stunning alpine lake for their elopement this past year.
Sitting beneath a towering 14,099′ Snowmass Mountain, getting to the lake require some good ol’ foot power. The shortest route to the lake is from Marble, Colorado and requires a 4×4 vehicle – putting our hike at just over 15 miles.
Yes, 15 miles.
The route that we decided on took us up and over Trailrider Pass, and descended right into the camping area of Snowmass Lake. We packed our overnight gear- and along with their good friend James, and puppers Vegas and Maggie – we headed into the Maroon Bells wilderness to spend a night camping under the stars before their Sunrise elopement.
In true 2021 style, the skies were hazy for our afternoon hike up trailrider pass. The trail winds through stunning a stunning aspen forest until you gradually gain elevation before heading straight up the pass.
Maggie, the smaller of Katrina and Sean’s two dogs, was able to join us on her last big hike. She’s getting to be a little old lady – but with the help of her owners carrying her in their hiking packs, she was able to make it to their wedding day. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a dog so happy to be rolled into a bag like a little burrito to then be carried around all afternoon.
After stopping for some snacks at 12,415′ at the top of Trailrider Pass, we all happily began the down portion of our hike into the basin.
We all set up camp, and spent the rest of the early evening making food, filtering water from the lake, and enjoying the views that we spent all day hiking in for.
One of the things that Katrina and Sean wanted to be sure and do the night before their wedding was see if the Milky Way would make an appearance. Knowing we’d be up at 3am for some star gazing to then go back to sleep only until 5am to get ready for their elopement, we headed to bed at a pretty early hour.
My alarm went off at 3am, and the skies were INCREDIBLY clear. I could see the core of the Milky Way with my bare eyes, and there was not a cloud in the sky. We took roughly 15 minutes to walk around and get a few photos with the stars and peaks in the background. One thing I’m always sure to mention is that Milky Way/Star shots are always an attempt. There’s so many variables that need to fall into place to get just 2-3 images. I’m so happy to say that all “of the stars aligned” for us that night ;).
Just a short few hours later, it was time to get ready to GET MARRIED!
Getting ready by way of headlamp, Katrina got ready in the tent while Sean got ready in the space that spanned between all of our camps.
Right as the sun began to crest over the horizon, Katrina and Sean were wed by their good friend James overlooking the lake that they loved.
We spent the next few hours taking photographs around the area, eating a hefty breakfast, and reading letters that their loved ones had sent. Katrina and Sean had asked their friends and family that were back at home to write words of well wishes and congratulations in a beautiful book that they brought up to camp with them. This is one of my favorite ways for couples to include their family and friends who aren’t able to make it to an elopement.
One of the unfortunate things about hiking down into a basin, is that you have to then hike back UP it to get out.
We stopped roughly 1/2 way back up Trail Rider pass to overlook the lake we had just come from, and pop some celebratory champagne. I absolutely loved this view point – Snowmass Mountain to the left, Snowmass lake in the center with Willoughby Mountain towering over, and the famous Maroon Bells Peaks to the right.
As it became late afternoon, we all made our way back to the cars. It was certainly a very tired shuffle back for everyone- except maybe Maggie who got her backpack ride down the mountain.
Congratulations again, Katrina and Sean! I had such a great time exploring, backpacking, eating biscuits and gravy, and general hiking shenanigans with you guys <3
A big Thank You to my favorite mountain and hiking elopement helper – my brother Alex. I’m so thankful for all the help that you offer to me, and how helpful and thoughtful you are for all the amazing couples that we hike with.