A Sunrise Heli-Elopement
The topography around Purcell Mountain Lodge is unlike anything else I have ever seen. At 7,200 ft above sea level, the lodge sits on an enormous alpine plateau that is nearly 10 km long and 2 km wide. Even though there is a deep valley between the plateau and the prominence of Mount Sir Douglas (the massive peak that you see while driving over the summit of the Rogers Pass on Highway 1), that range feels like it gives definition to the entire world up there. I found it hard not to be a little awe-struck, and this is coming from someone who grew up in the mountains, and spent considerable time in the backcountry.
When Alison first described her vision for a sunrise helicopter elopement on the mountains above the lodge, I was immediately hooked. As a backcountry skier, the lodge and its terrain have been on my radar for a little while now, and I could not wait to see what we would find back there. I knew that if the weather cooperated, there was a very real possibility to create some really special wedding images with Alison and Randin.
I’ve spent a lot of time at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort as a wedding photographer and skier. I’ve never seen it quite from this vantage point before; and this is an image that will be burned into my mind’s eye for a long time to come. Check out Alison’s boots and socks. She’s as legit as they come when it comes to moving through the backcountry. I always joke about granting membership in my Hiking Brides Club, but I think I was trying to gain admission into her ‘Hiking Photographers Club.’ I have absolutely no doubt that she could hike me into the ground if she wanted to.
The helicopter dropped us off with the promise that it would be back in about an hour. We had the intermediate time to find a spot to do a ceremony, and then create some portraits. Check out the sun cresting the mountains behind just after we started hiking. We literally could not have timed it any better if we tried. It was one of the most perfect mornings I have ever experienced in the mountains.
You can see part of the plateau that the lodge sits on in this next photo. The tall peak is Mount Sir Douglas. See what I mean about that range dominating the space? For the record, I was there, and I still almost don’t believe that this was a real backdrop.
After the helicopter came back to pick us up, we headed down to the lodge for a quick refreshment break before heading out on a hike. I was floored by the spread that was waiting for us – Jackie and Sunny are extremely good hosts!