Not only am I a Washington Adventure Elopement Photographer… But, I also spent 5 months straight backpacking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Firsthand, I know that hiking can be tough. However, at the same time, it can be one of the most gratifying experiences… Especially if it is for your wedding. This is why I am going to do my best to give you the best information for hiking elopement preparation.
Whether you are hiking one mile to your elopement location or twenty, it is important to be prepared!
Make sure your location is accessible during your projected hiking elopement date. Do research to figure out if that spot gets lots of rain and snow and when the “dry season” is! The best place I have found for this information is the current conditions on All Trails. Also, the review section is extremely helpful as well!
Downloading the map of the trail on All Trails (could you guess that I LOVE this resource), is also extremely helpful. No matter where you are, you will be able to memorize and understand the terrain before diving in headfirst. PRO TIP: If you don’t have the paid version of All Trails, you are able to “heart” the trail on the app and pull it up even if you don’t have service. That, my friends, is a backpacker’s DREAM tip.
Most people focus on the length of the trail. However, I have learned that paying attention to the elevation gain is HUGE. Not only can the elevation gain affect the difficulty of the hike, but the air is also so much thinner the higher up you go! Know your hiking abilities. If you aren’t someone who hikes on a daily basis, a 10-mile hike with a large amount of elevation gain may not be your best bet for your elopement.
MY FINAL HIKING ELOPEMENT PREPARATION THOUGHTS FOR THIS?
Check the average time it takes to hike the trail and plan your wedding accordingly.
Pay attention to when it is the most popular and PLAN. AHEAD.
Finding comfortable shoes/boots to hike in will truly make or break your hiking elopement experience. The most important part? Making sure they are broken in BEFORE the big day. Showing up with never-been-hiked-in shoes is the BIGGEST mistake you could make. No one wants to deal with blisters… ESPECIALLY ON YOUR WEDDING DAY.
Side note: If you are prone to blisters, Leukotape will be your best friend. Moleskin works pretty well also. If there is an area you know you tend to get blisters, pop a piece of Leukotape on those areas. If there is any friction from your shoes, you have an extra layer in between, protecting your skin. Also, double up on socks works in preventing blisters as well! I wore 2 pairs of socks on the PCT.
TWO TYPES OF FOOTWEAR I RECOMMEND:
TRAIL RUNNERS. Specifically, Altras Olympus or Hoka Speed Goat 4.
I used both of these two trail runners on my thru-hikes and I SWEAR BY THEM. I rarely had blisters or foot injuries. They aren’t the most aesthetic in terms of looking good for elopement photos. However, you can always bring other to change into!
HIKING BOOTS. Specifically, Danner Boots. If you are looking for something sturdier, hiking boots are a great option. They also look great peeking out from under a wedding dress. Keep in mind that if you decide to elope in warmer temperatures, you are way more likely to get blisters. Hiking boots don’t offer a lot of airflow. This being said, You might want to consider hiking in the runners and changing into the boots if you don’t mind carrying them up with you!
A lot of elopement couples, and honestly, people in general, don’t think about this one! Having the right socks goes hand in hand with your shoes! I highly suggest Darn Toughs or Injnjis (merino wool). Avoid cotton at all costs!
Find a comfy-fitting backpack! I used a Hyperlite pack on my PCT hike. The REI flash pack and Osprey packs have a good amount of cushion. Depending on what your hiking elopement looks like, might affect how much you need to bring and the size pack you will need.
Always have your rain gear and a couple of extra layers (puffy and fleece)! You NEVER know when the weather will change. I recently photographed a backpacking elopement in Patagonia, Argentina and while all the weather apps were stating clear sunny skies, we were unfortunately met with rain and a little bit of snow at the higher elevation areas. Below are a few photos from this epic elopement. They put on all of the layers they had and topped them with rain gear and stayed completely dry and warm the entire time.
Make sure to stay hydrated! A big part of hiking elopement preparation is figuring out your water supply and how you plan to keep your water intake up. Don’t pack it all with you… IF YOU CAN HELP IT. Instead, opt for bringing a filter. I suggest the Sawyer Squeeze. I have used this product religiously as an avid backpacker and adventure elopement photographer, and I have never gotten sick. If you aren’t a fan of purifiers, carry at least 2 – 3 liters for hikes under 5 miles and 3 – 4 for anything over that.
DON’T SKIMP ON THE SNACKS. Not only are they essential, but they are a big motivator for when you get to the end of your hiking elopement destination. Make sure you pack a variety of sweet and salty. If it is a longer hike, don’t forget the heartier snack. The can be sandwiches or even some pizza that will make everyone on the trail jealous.
Keep up on your electrolytes. I recommend Nuun.
I have always loved spending time in the great outdoors. So much so, that I spent a whole 5 months backpacking from Mexico to Canada on the Pacific Crest Trail. Here, my life and everything that it meant, changed.
Similar to my euphoric experiences on the trail, I want to provide similar opportunities for you on the best day of your life. I know firsthand how deeply life-changing these moments can be. Honestly? There is nothing quite like making it to the top of a peak and staring at the vast landscape.
NEED HELP WITH HIKING ELOPEMENT PREPARATION?
As always, make sure to remember your leave no trace principles!
Jackie Krueger Photo- A Las Vegas + PNW Elopement and Wedding Photographer. Documenting every couple's unique love story and true authentic selves here, there and everywhere in between. Where will your GRAND adventure take you?