Elopements aren’t supposed to be stressful right? Well, about two weeks before this sunrise hiking elopement in Kananaskis, we found out that the hike we were planning to do was going to be closed. So, we were a little bit scrambling to find a new one. Especially because finding a good hike in the early spring can be challenging! There is avalanche danger, lots of snow, and you never know what the weather could do. Leah and I headed out to tackle a few hikes and ended up deciding on Little Lougheed.
Waking Up for the Sunrise Hiking Elopement
My alarm went off at about 1:30 am in my hotel room in Canmore this Friday morning. Honestly, once I get past the waking up part, I’m usually good to go even at that time of the morning. I went to check out of the hotel and the man looked confused…. “You’re checking OUT?” he asked. “Yes.” I replied. The town of Canmore was dead at that time of the morning, as I made my way out to the Three Sisters Parkway. I could see the faint outlines of Ha Ling Peak and East End of Rundle as I made my way slowly up the winding washboards. There was not a soul in sight. Just before I lost service, I received a text from Leah saying they were on their way. Yay! They didn’t sleep in ha!
I arrived at the trailhead for Little Lougheed. It was pitch black, apart from the faint glow of the distant stars. I was alone, with no service, in the middle of nowhere. Not going to lie, it is kind of a strange feeling. I stepped out of my car to try to snag a couple of star photos while I waited, hoping there wasn’t a bear or cougar hiding in the blackness. Then I saw headlights. Emery, the videographer arrived. Next, my second shoot Elisabeth arrived. And then Leah and Josh arrived, bright eyed and bushy tailed 😉 This was their day! Their elopement day!!
The Hike up For the Elopement
We gathered up all of our things and strapped the bouquet and Leah’s dress to our backpacks. Armed with headlamps, bear spray, and the All Trails trail map, we set off into the darkness. We went the wrong way a couple of times, as there were many trails shooting off elsewhere. As we climbed, we could start to faintly see the glow over the peaks that comes at first light.
Leah and Josh hiked ahead, their excitement growing. I was behind a ways, watching their shadowy figures reach the last ridge up to the summit. We made it!
It was quite chilly at the top, with a biting wind and no sun yet. Leah got to work on her makeup, while Josh got the jet boil going for some coffee. He too, then started to get ready, trying to get his suit on while staying warm in the frigid wind. Leah hunkered down with her little mirror and big down coat as she finished her makeup. Elisabeth, Emery and I helped Leah with her dress at the last, our fingers freezing trying to fasten the clips. Finally, they were ready.
After the first look, Josh and Leah exchanged personal vows, with the most stunning rock face for a backdrop. The glow of sunrise cast warm highlights on their faces and the wind blew Leah’s hair and dress in every direction. It didn’t take long for them to get quite cold. We pulled out the handwarmers, they drank some coffee, and then we prepared to hike down. It was much easier descending in the light of day!
We stopped at another beautiful lookout about halfway down. As we were taking some photos, we heard a loud rumbling sound across the way. An avalanche! What an incredible thing to witness. We were glad it was across the valley.
As we hiked the last stretch down, we came around the corner and who was there but Josh’s dad! He had just finished placing the last rock of a little heart he made on the trail. It was perfect timing. We arrived back at the road, where Leah’s parents were overjoyed to see we’d made it safely. There was a little rocky beach beside the frozen lake that made for a perfect ceremony spot. Josh’s dad officiated, Leah and Josh exchanged rings, and voila! They were married!
It was a grand morning for a sunrise hiking elopement in Kananaskis! I can’t wait for the next one! If you read this and want to do this too, send me a message and lets get it going!
Videographer – Kord and Co
Florist – Elkae Creative
Dress – Pronovias