Tera & Andy traded in the DJ, flowers and bridal party for a hike in the mountains! Their Baxter State Park elopement on one of the trails to Katahdin was every bit as amazing as the most glam wedding. The three mile hike to secluded Chimney Pond was both stunning and life affirming. Their journey, however, started halfway across the country.
Both from Wisconsin and UW graduates, they live in Madison. A world away from Maine. However, last year they visited Acadia National Park and fell in love with Maine. Not wanting to return to the same spot, they decided on a Baxter State Park elopement. Why an elopement?
Tera & Andy are pretty dedicated people. Their relationship is one of honesty, love and devotion towards an outdoorsy active lifestyle. Their marriage is a reflection of that. They love hiking, exploring different corners of the natural world, and going to off the beaten path places.
So while some may think a wedding in a never seen before location risky, it was exactly what inspired Tera & Andy. They did their research, discovered Chimney Pond and plotted out their course. Starting with a road trip from Madison.
Tera & Andy were introduced by a mutual friend. Andy, a background in political science and history is an IT engineer with a startup specializing in healthcare. Tera is continuing her studies in higher education. Her goal is to work in international education and studying abroad. A topic close to her heart as she traveled to Ghana for school and has returned every two years since.
Last year the couple went to Boston to visit Tera’s college friend. On a ferry ride to Spectacle Island Andy proposed. Tera thought he was joking and gave a sarcastic response before realizing this was for real. That pretty clearly gives a sense of who this couple is. Never shy in humor and always up for adventure.
Neither Tera nor Andy could imagine a traditional wedding. Or even a courthouse wedding. Their vision was one involving an epic experience with stunning imagery. A few weeks later they would have a relaxed picnic with family and friends to celebrate.
Baxter State Park held some intrigue beyond a pretty location. Andy, being a huge fan of canoeing and fishing Baxter is top notch for both. Frequent visitors will stash canoes by remote lakes. Hiking miles for a paddle with a fly fishing rod.
Designated a state park through 28 donations of land between 1931 and 1962, Baxter is now over 200,000 acres in Northern central Maine. Flanked by logging land, the park is teeming with wildlife from moose to birds and even bear. It’s wilderness in every sense. With no electricity, running water or paved roads, the closest town is 20 miles away. The tallest mountain, Katahdin, stands at 5,267 feet and is the terminus of the Appalachian Trail. Based on the sweaty faces we saw, it’s no easy hike.
Chimney Pond is part way of the mountain, 3.3 miles up from the Roaring Brook Campground. It’s one of the less rigorous trails, following a stream for a length and offering stunning mountain views. The trails levels off at the pond where we caught our breath before getting married. Tera and Andy ducked into the porta pottys for a clothing change. Tera into her wedding dress hand sewn by her Ghana mother. Andy, a slightly more traditional attire.
The officiant, Pastor Ben from Island Falls, joined the hike and the outfit change. Passing the ranger hut, Andy of course couldn’t pass up the opportunity to ask questions. Then on to the shore of the pond, where surprisingly we had the entire area to ourselves. Andy & Tera found the perfect spot, Ben between them. And the ceremony began in every bit of formality as a traditional wedding but with far more splendor.
The rock face flanking the opposite side of the lake is far from the traditional work granite look of Maine, and we could easily have been in Colorado. Water so clear we could see each rock at the bottom. Colors were phenomenal and the sweat from the hike seemed distant.
One of the most amazing aspects of this elopement was the ability to have great conversation for hours on end. We almost felt guilty of our ability to have such personal time on Tera & Andy’s wedding day, thinking of all their loved ones that were back in Wisconsin. We learned about Andy’s love of park rangers. Tera’s challenging and emotionally rewarding time in Ghana. Inside jokes were formed over Tera’s having the best hair of any hiker on Katahdin. And we got in a great workout! While Tera & Andy were in training for a half marathon, our stamina proved slightly less. Our plans for hiking to the summit with them the following morning were definitely slightly too lofty.
We concluded the epic day with dinner at the New England Outdoor Center. Tera & Andy returned to their B&B in Millinocket for cake with their hosts while we camped on the shore of Millinocket Lake. Ben returned to his small town of Island Falls.
We couldn’t help adding this photo of adventure wedding photographer Keith Tharp after rock hopping out in to the river to get the above photo. Tera & Andy continued their Maine voyage for a few days around Baxter and Vinylhaven before hitting up Niagra Falls on the drive home. And we have already made plans for a reunion hike to the Katahdin summit. We can’t wait!
Baxter State Park Elopement details:
Ceremony Location – Baxter State Park
Are you planning something as awesome as a Baxter State Park elopement and looking for the right adventurous wedding photographers to make the journey with you? We’d love to hear all about it and see if we’d be a good fit. Let’s talk about your wedding photography!