Written by Cortlyn Adams
Sunrise Fire Lookout Engagement Session at Mt Rainier
I will be the first to admit that I am not a morning person, but I will gladly wake up before the sun for epic adventures like this sunrise fire lookout engagement session at Mt Rainier! Now, before I can tell you the fun details about this stunning Mt Rainier sunrise engagement session, I have to tell you why I think Annie and Wyatt are so amazing! I met Annie and Wyatt at the White River Campground the night before their sunrise engagement session. We set up camp and sat around the campfire for hours; they shared their love story with me, and even shared how Annie used to not be adventurous at all! Now, they have both summited Mount Rainier.
Um, what?! And, there’s more!
Wyatt proposed at Camp Muir, which is the base camp to summit Mt Rainier. They had attempted to summit that day, but the weather conditions were not on their side. So, Wyatt had to forgo his original plan of proposing at the top of Mt Rainier and popped the question at the base camp (still such an epic place to get engaged, right?).
So, at this point in their story it is very clear that Mt Rainier has had so much influence in their relationship. Then, Wyatt casually said, “Actually my mom is the youngest female to ever summit Rainier. She was six.” Her dad had to custom-make crampons small enough for her feet! Yeah, I had to pick my jaw off the forest floor, too. So, Mt Rainier is just a really special mountain to this couple, which is why they wanted their engagement Adventure Session at the iconic mountain.
We woke up the next morning in the campground at 3:00 a.m. and drove to the Sunrise Visitor Center. Commonly, people summit Mt Rainier at night, so Annie and Wyatt knew they wanted a sunrise Adventure Session because they knew the views would be so amazing. This is why we chose to adventure along the sunrise side of the mountain. This morning was a dreamy, crystal clear day, which meant we could see the headlamps in the distance of the hikers working to summit Mt Rainier. Annie and Wyatt became a bit emotional (rightfully so!) as they watched the dots of light travel along the trail that meant so much to them.
Where to Camp for Your Sunrise Engagement Session at Mt Rainier
I highly recommend camping at White River Campground in the northern section of Mount Rainier National Park for your sunrise engagement session. This campsite is half reservations, half walk-up, and it is located right off of the White River. This location has the most beautiful view of Mt Rainier, and there are hiking trails directly off of the campground. This is a campsite that is great for everyone: climbers, hikers, sight-seers and families.
What to know about Sunrise Visitor Center and Mt Rainier
The Sunrise Visitor Center and Day Lodge is the highest point in the park accessible by car. There are food options and amazing views available at Sunrise. According to Rainier Guest Services, “The cabins are gone and no overnight lodging exists, but the Sunrise Lodge, now operated by Rainier Guest Services provides cafeteria-style dining and a visit to Sunrise should not be missed. The road leading to Sunrise offers one of the most scenic drives in the country and the pullover at Sunrise Point offers views of five volcanoes including Mount Rainier, Mount Baker, Glacier Peak, Mount Adams, and Mount Hood in Oregon.”
We began our six-mile hike, and the alpenglow on Mt Rainier was just absolutely insane. We all teared up because of how stunning the mountain looked this morning. We reached the fire lookout at the top of our hike, and if you’ve read any of my blog posts before you will know that I am a huge fan of fire lookouts. They truly allow you to experience some of the most amazing views in all directions. After we watched the sun rise higher on Rainier, we hiked back down to Sunrise and had mimosas in the parking lot! Then, Annie and Wyatt drove back to the campsite to sleep for four more hours, and I drove home and went back to sleep, too. Epic sunrise adventures call for epic post-hike naps, am I right?
History of Fire Lookouts: from Sunrise to Sunset
Following the devastating series of forest fires in 1910 that swept across Idaho, Montana and Washington, early fire protection became a priority to the Forest Service. That is when fire lookouts began to be built across the country to help with forest fire detection. Because of the high location of these fire lookouts, the views from these mountain tops stretch as far and wide as your eyes can see! Want to see another amazing fire lookout adventure? Click here to read the story of a bohemian elopement style vow renewal at a Washington fire lookout.
What to pack for your Sunrise Engagement Session
Curious what to pack for your sunrise Adventure Session? I’m here to share my top recommendations of what to pack before your adventure:
The America the Beautiful annual national park pass costs $80 and will last you for an entire year’s worth of adventures.
This is super important for sunrise sessions because most of your hike to the mountain views will be completed prior to sunrise.
Who’s surprised that snacks is listed? Yeah, I figured you wouldn’t be. Click here to read about some of my favorite go-to snacks as an adventure elopement photographer.
Layers of clothes
The temperature drastically changes as the sunrises, so I always recommend bringing plenty of layers that you can shed throughout the morning. Throw in a long sleeve, sweatshirt, down jacket and rain jacket and you’ll be set!
It is always a good idea to be over prepared. You just never know what furry friend you could meet along a trail in the forest!
Want to hang this print of these sunrise mountain layers in your own home? Click here to order one for yourself from Shop Between the Pine!
Can you imagine a mountain sunrise adventure engagement session like this stunning morning at Mt Rainier? If you’re beginning to dream of your dream adventure, don’t just heard my side of this amazing day! Read about Annie and Wyatt’s experience during their sunrise engagement session at Mt Rainier.
From the Couple: Sunrise Fire Lookout Engagement Session
“Our engagement session exceeded every expectation we could have had. I was particularly nervous as the day drew closer, realizing I had not thought through a lot of things. For starters, I knew we would have to wake up early, but only my mountaineering background prepared me for our 3:00 a.m wake up. Also, I’m not great at putting on makeup normally, how was I going to do it in the dark after sleeping in a tent? Lastly, what if the weather was terrible and we didn’t get that gorgeous mountain glow? Why didn’t I just do normal engagement photos like most people?
My mind was immediately set at ease when we finally met Mollie in person. We were pleasantly surprised when she agreed to camp with us the night before. She didn’t make me feel like I was crazy, in fact she made me feel excited for what was to come. We shared stories and food over the campfire, and turned in early.
In the morning, we woke up and drove to the sunrise visitor center parking lot in the dark. Looking out, we could see the small line of headlamps as people were making their way to the summit. This was the moment I knew there was no other place I wanted to be for this part of our lives. I had brought along a magnetic mirror that I bought at a dollar store and attached it to my car to do my makeup by headlamp. We then hiked to a fire lookout that Mollie had chosen for us with about five minutes to spare before the sun started to come up over the ridge. I changed into the clothes I had picked out, Mollie started playing Lord Huron (our favorite band), and we watched as the mountain turned pink, purple and orange. Lots of happy tears were shed from both my fiance and I as we realized we were in our favorite place, documenting the start of our marriage together.
Looking back on this experience, I know that there were a lot of parts that came together to make this the experience that it was. For starters, I had to be okay with many things not going as planned. For example, I knew I wasn’t going to look my best after camping, getting ready in the dark and hiking to the fire lookout, but I knew this was okay because it was true to a life lived outdoors. Also, if the weather changed and we had to change the location, I had to be okay with a different backdrop for our photos. Lastly, I give most the credit to our amazing photographer who not only embraced my idea, but found the hike for us, and had a smile on her face the whole time, from the 3:00 a.m. wake up, to when we parted ways. She even had mimosa fixings for us when we got back to the car.”
Annie and Wyatt, it was such an honor to experience Mount Rainier with people who the mountain meant so much to. Thank you for allowing me to document this morning for you. I cannot wait for your camping-style intimate wedding in the mountains next June!
Are you inspired by Annie and Wyatt’s sunrise engagement session? Contact me by clicking here and we’ll plan your stunning adventure!
Ready to explore more elopements, weddings and adventures? Wander away below!
Between the Pine is an adventure elopement and wedding photography brand created by Mollie Adams. Based in the Pacific Northwest, Mollie travels with her camera in hand to document “I dos” in epic landscapes including Washington, Oregon, California, and Hawaii.