3-Day Backpacking Elopement at Evolution Lake

September 21, 2021

Where to begin? Gary and Carmen reached out with only 5 week’s notice with their dream to elope at Evolution Lake over a 3-day weekend. In a year of unknowns, sometimes the last minute ideas are the best. I have certainly found this to hold true in my own life. Thankfully, they are seasoned hikers, as am I, so we knew what we were getting into. We planned a 3-day itinerary of crossing over Lamarck Col (quite the feat!), camping and hiking through the Darwin Bench, and ending at Evolution Lake. I have to admit, even after hiking the ENTIRE John Muir Trail this summer, I was so psyched to get back out to the Sierra Mountains. This was definitely a backpacking elopement for the books.

The cliché goes, “The journey is better than the destination,” and I have to agree. If all you want is some stunning photos, obviously we can find some easier destinations with a quick hike and be done with it. But these two wanted something more. And so, we set off on a once in a lifetime adventure.

Gary and Carmen are both well acquainted with the Sierra, having spent a significant amount of time exploring. While I know many a backpacker, these two are special. Rather than going for miles or distance, they go for time spent in the backcountry. By some magic they manage to pack their bear canisters with 2+ weeks of food without resupplying! For this journey, they packed 17 days of food for our 3-day elopement, after which they honeymooned for 14 more days in the Ionian Basin.

Our party of 5 was composed of the couple, myself, my partner/assistant, and the officiant, Bergen. Bergen not only looked the part with his attire, but also brought a banjo to serenade us. Here are some photos of us trekking over Lamarck Col, an “off trail” pass that requires a bit of navigation skills and a lot of stamina.

After we made it over Lamarck Col, we hiked through Darwin Bench which is one of the most beautiful places I have explored in the Sierra.

After an afternoon of swimming and resting, we got ready for an evening of portraits. I cannot imagine a more perfect backdrop for these wedding portraits. Gary wore a kilt to represent his Scottish heritage, and Carmen joined with a matching shawl.

On the 3rd morning we all woke early to get ready for the ceremony.

The ceremony was unique, beautiful, and intimate. Gary and Carmen spent the time create a ceremony that fully reflected their own lives and their special relationship. It was a sight to behold. The sun peaked out above the mountains just as they said their vows (that part was planned).

We wrapped up the ceremony with a fun reception: Champagne, cake, and lots of celebrating with a few more friends!