Alyeska, Alaska

the hearnes » adventure elopement photographers

shannon + cody's adventurous hiking engagement session | alaska mountain elopement inspiration

Oh my goodness, we had so much fun with these two!! Shannon and Cody met in College Station, Texas when Shannon started working at a bar where Cody was in charge of security. According to Shannon, “He was this tough, quiet guy in charge of the security and I was the annoyingly happy, always dancing, bartender.” She then went on to tell their adorable story, “I thought he hated me. I had no idea that he actually liked me and had planned a Sunday barbecue at his place just so he could see me outside of work. I almost didn't go because I was working three jobs and had pulled two all nighters back to back. Something compelled me to go though and I'm forever grateful. Everyone at that party knew what was going on except me and they made sure we sat next to each other. Needless to say we talked the night away and he asked me on a date later that week.” SO SWEET! Their adorable story was fun, but I knew I really loved these two when Shannon mentioned their FIVE dogs! They each had a dog when they met, and then ended up fostering and raising a litter of puppies, and then deciding to keep three of them! They love doing all kinds of adventures together like traveling, hiking, kayaking, snorkeling, as well as backing and cooking. They even got scuba certified recently!

When Shannon got in touch with us about an adventure session, we mentioned we would be in Alaska this summer, and Shannon loved the idea of meeting up out there! We had a few ideas for locations that we’d scouted online before coming out there, but a few days after Callen and I got to the Anchorage area we found a gorgeous hike near Girdwood. We were just exploring a dirt road when we came up to a trailhead for a hike I recognized. I knew it was something we really wanted to do, but I also remembered it was a pretty strenuous hike and since we’d had a long day, I wasn’t too psyched on it. It was around 4pm, but the sunsets super late in Alaska in the summer, so we had plenty of day light. Callen and I decided to just hike up a few switchbacks and see if the trail opened up to a pretty field or basin in the mountains. Well, you can probably guess how “just a few switchbacks” went :) A few hours later, we were topping out at a gorgeous alpine lake above the clouds. The lake was perfectly blue, with little ice chunks floating around in it, and despite our sore legs, we were in complete awe and spent the while hike down wondering if we could muster the energy to repeat it again the following day with Shannon and Cody. I took a bunch of phone photos and when we got back into service, texted them to Shannon saying “are y’all open to hiking a little farther than we’d originally planned?” Thankfully, they were totally down!!

The following day, Callen and I woke up and strettttttched (we were pretty sore haha!) but were so excited to head back up the mountain with Shannon and Cody. We met up with them for lunch in Girdwood, and like any typical Alaska summer day near the coast, the sky was swirling with clouds. The forecast read a chance of rain, but no thunderstorms so we all agreed we were down to go for it as long as the conditions stayed safe! When we pulled up to the trailhead, it was full-on raining. We shuffled into the van together and shut the door to come up with a plan. We all agreed the clouds had been moving in and out, so we could probably hike above the clouds, or at least hope they’d clear at some point up high. We had plenty of day light, so we all put on our rain gear, grabed an umbrella, and started hiking. As a stoke of luck, a lady in the parking lot stopped us and mentioned she’d had reservations to camp at the cabin up by the lake that night, but wasn’t going to go up, so we could use the cabin if we wanted! This ended up being such a god-send as a warm, dry place to chill between photos and change after the hike up! We all chatted about life and dogs and family as we hiked the switchbacks and gorgeous trail up the mountains. By the time we got to the lake, the clouds were swirling around and it was super cold, but not raining! So we went straight to the cabin, Shannon and Cody changed into their clothes for the session, and we all downed some snacks before heading out to brave the cold. Shannon was SUCH a trooper, having fun and laughing with Cody despite the freezing temps! We alternated from running around the lake, taking in the epic views, and running back to the cabin for a break. We all did jumping jacks to warm up, and wished we could have brought 25 blankets up with us :) Before we knew it, we’d been hiking around for a few hours and decided to head down before the weather turned any worse. Part of our hike down was through such thick fog, we could barely see 20 feet in front of us! It was wild, but I couldn’t help but think it was pretty classic Alaska, and we all agreed it was such an epic way to experience the mountains! By the time we got down, we stripped our wet clothes for warm dry ones and agreed it was truly an adventurous day. I am so in love with these photos and can’t rave enough about how amazing Shannon and Cody were!! They easily could have been distraught with the weather, but we always encourage our couples to embrace it and these two absolutely did that!!

We are so excited to be heading back to Alaska next summer, this time for three whole months! After our trip out there this summer, we have a long list of places that would be absolutely amazing for an adventure elopement, intimate wedding, or engagement session! If you’re considering eloping and like the idea of a destination wedding, but want to keep things relatively simple, Alaska is such a good option for your elopement! It was super easy to explore and navigate as a US resident (obviously) but felt like a far-off international destination! The landscape in Alaska is so amazing, you could literally have your elopement ceremony on a glacier via a helicopter and then be up on a gorgeous hillside for sunset wedding portraits within an hour. We found amazing iceberg lagoons, hiked some epic mountain passes, and explore some of the coolest terrain we’ve ever seen! We’ll be booking limited dates during our three months in Alaska next summer, so if you’re hoping to have your elopement or intimate wedding in Denali National Park, Girdwood, Valdez, or any of the other epic spots we explored, get in touch with us as soon as possible!

The Hearnes Adventure Photography is run by Abbi and Callen Hearne, a husband & wife wedding photography team with an emphasis on adventure. They live on the road as full-time nomads in their big white van, allowing them to serve a large portion of the western US including California, Utah, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Colorado, and Wyoming. They believe love is the greatest adventure and strive to create photos that are epic, romantic, true, and timeless.