When Ryan contacted me last year about photographing he and Chenoa’s elopement near Lolo Pass, I remember becoming unusually excited and calling him to explain why. In 2013 I had a moose hunting tag for that area and I spent 41 days hunting there before harvesting my moose. I told him that there are probably very few people on this earth who know that area as well as I do and almost certainly no other photographers, so we had to make it work. Fortunately it also turned out that we were a perfect fit style-wise!
I met Chenoa and her family at the Lochsa Lodge in Powell before driving down the Lochsa River to where Warm Springs Creek joins it from the south. We all walked up the creek towards Jerry Johnson Hot Springs, but stopped just short when we came to some “Quiet, Wedding in Progress” signs that Ryan had pinned to the trees. Chenoa stayed beyond, but shortly she would play a flute from her location and Ryan would answer from the ceremony site. They would continue talking to each other this way as Chenoa approached, wearing a wedding dress she made herself. Both families held hands in a half circle while barefooted Chenoa and Ryan were married amidst the towering cedars. Afterwards the three of us ventured upstream for some portraits around the hot springs, then back down to the river for some more. The weather was amazing for us, considering this was the second week of October. The next day it snowed something like 4-6″ in the same place! 🙂