April 2, 2021
This Paradise Mount Rainier Backpacking Elopement was a really special one, but the road to get there was a bit rough! I (Hannah) was shooting with my photography mentor at the time, Andie Avery. But since Andie is from Oregon and I’m from Washington, we ended up driving separately. Malia and Joey (the couple) are from Washington, but they had a 3+ hour drive to get to the park. We all left early with the intention of hiking a longer trail at Mount Rainier, and finding a private spot for Malia and Joey to say their vows.
When I was about an hour from Mount Rainier, my car broke down. Of course, I immediately called AAA and my family to see who could come get me. My grandma was willing to drive an hour to come and save me! Unfortunately, though, I wasn’t going to get to the trailhead until 6 pm, and we were supposed to start hiking at 4 pm. But I did everything I could, and the rest was out of my control. Thankfully, this was just formal portraits for the couple, and Andie was there to hang out with them.
When I finally got there, Malia and Joey were so kind! This was the first time I had met the couple because Andie had actually photographed their wedding a few years ago. They were just the sweetest couple ever! Andie and I had an absolute blast with them, getting creative before and after the sun had set. We hiked up the trailhead and found a beautiful spot with a stunning view of Mount Rainier! It was smokey from the summer wildfires, so the sun was a reddish-orange color. But as the sun went down, the sky turned into cotton candy! It was awesome! Malia and Joey said their vows in a private spot among the wildlfowers (don’t worry, we followed the ethics of Leave No Trace by not stepping on any wildflowers, but instead finding durable ground to stand on) as the sun set behind them.
I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor, a more incredible couple to photograph, or a more perfect night! Sure, the car situation sucked, BUT everything worked out. We were still able to capture special moments, and make some fun memories together! It’s always important to remember to find the good in everything!
Photographer: Hannah Falk
Florals: Copper & Currant
Sign: Check out this instagram reel to see how Hannah made it (:
Anytime you camp overnight in Mount Rainier National Park, you will need a wilderness permit. And if you want to climb above 10,000 feet for your elopement, you will need a climbing permit. You can make reservations at least 2 days in advance of your trip. It’s recommended to make reservations, but about 1/3 of permits are only issued on-site on a first-come, first-served walk-up basis. So, it just depends on where you want to camp. In order to purchase a permit, go to recreation.gov and search for your trail/campsite.
The Wonderland Trail is a 93 mile (150 km) long trail that encircles Mount Rainier. This hike is strenuous, taking you through lowland forests and valleys and into high alpine and sub-alpine areas. There is a lot of elevation gain and loss, so it is not a trail that is recommended for inexperienced hikers. If you’re wanting to camp along the Wonderland Trail, you will need to apply for a permit through the early-access lottery. This lottery system limits the amount of traffic on the trail. Along the Wonderland Trail, there are eighteen trailside wilderness camps and three non-wilderness camps. Parties with 6-12 people will need a camp that has a group site, but not all camps have group sites. It’s important to do your research and plan ahead!
Anytime you are going backpacking in Mount Rainier, you need to plan ahead. The best way to do this is to check out the Mount Rainier National Park Wilderness Trip Planner. You will also need to follow the Wilderness Guidelines and Regulations for camping inside the park.
Just like always, it’s super important to follow the Leave No Trace principles. The LNT principles are: plan ahead and prepare, travel and camp on durable surfaces, dispose of waste properly, leave what you find, minimize campfire impacts, respect wildlife, and be considerate of other visitors. At Rainier, not only do you need to follow these principles, but you need to be super aware of the fragile alpine meadows. To learn more about LNT at Rainier specifically, go to nps.gov.