We both woke earlier than normal on the morning of our wedding day. We were nervous about being the center of attention, and apprehensive but hopeful that everyone would have a good time at our non-traditional wedding. The good news is that we weren’t worried at all about marrying each other!
Crawling out of our tent early in the morning with our pet bird Cheep Cheep
After some breakfast, it was time to get ready for the ceremony. Chris had it easy. He dunked his head in Maroon Creek, rustled his hands through his hair and called it done. Lili and Cindy took more time and care doing Anna’s hair up. They even added in a few white flowers.
Lili and Cindy putting up Anna’s hair
Chris’s suit had been hanging in the van to keep it wrinkle-free. When Chris saw it, he decided to change into his wedding outfit right there in the van since it had more headroom than our ultralight tent!
Chris getting ready in the cargo van
Anna slipped her dress on near the creek in the privacy of the trees. As we mentioned in our previous post, there had been a lot of rain the last few days. Today was as clear as could be and we were thrilled. The whole group happily applied sunscreen.
We then all left the Silver Queen Campground and headed up to the Maroon Bells amphitheater for the ceremony. Chris’s sister Becky played Wild Mountain Thyme on the concertina as we walked down the path into the amphitheater with our parents.
We love the outdoors and we love each other, so it seemed logical to have a camping wedding. Over the past year we have been planning a three-day wedding celebration near Maroon Bells and Aspen, Colorado. Two days before our guests were due to arrive, we loaded up a big rental cargo van with all sorts of camping equipment and wedding items we had carefully collected from thrift stores, consignment stores, and Craigslist. Our drive to Aspen took us through some stunning mountains. We were tired when we arrived so we set up camp, ate a quick dinner, and fell fast asleep.
The next morning, still groggy, we heard a deep voice outside our tent say “Anna and Chris.” Anna started to unzip the tent, dreading that a ranger would bring us some sort of bad news about the group of campsites we’d reserved months ago. “Anna and Chris” came the call again just as she tossed the rain fly to the side. It was Mags and Stu! They had also come up a few days early to do some backpacking in the area and had decided to see if we had arrived yet. So wonderful to wake to old friends smiling down on you.
Mags and Stu greeting us in our tent
Soon we were up and running errands: securing additional campsites, buying groceries, ordering flowers, etc. At the grocery store, we (Cheep Cheep too!) were thrilled to meet Smokey Bear. We think he was excited to learn about our camping wedding too, though he is a pretty chill sort of bear, so it’s hard to tell.
Sharing a moment with Smokey the Bear
On Thursday afternoon our friends and family started arriving and setting up camp at the Silver Queen Campground in White River National Forest. It’s a spectacular car camping site with Maroon Creek rushing past a few steps from the campsites, towering red-hued cliffs, aspens quaking in the breeze, and the Maroon Bell peaks visible in the distance if you stand in the right spot.
View of the living room and patio from the kitchen
Exciting news! We bought a condo! It’s close to the river bike path, near several Natural Areas, and less than a mile walk from the center of downtown Fort Collins. It’s modern, bright, and very energy efficient with foam insulation, a tankless hot water heater, double pane windows, a 92% efficiency furnace, and a downstairs neighbor who will heat our floor. We love it.
To celebrate, we are offering FREE shipping on Pacific Crest Trail: A Journey in Photographs book orders until June 25th. (That’s a good discount because shipping large heavy books isn’t cheap!)
We think you’ll love the book — but don’t take our word for it. Liz Bergeron, Executive Director and CEO of the Pacific Crest Trail Association, says:
This is the best collection of PCT photographs I’ve seen! Day hikers, section hikers, thru hikers, and anyone who enjoys the outdoors will love this book. The photos do a great job of capturing the essence of the PCT.
You can view sample pages and learn more on our book page.
Time for us to get packing, both our apartment and PCT book shipment boxes! Woohoo!
Anna recently completed her Master Naturalist training! The classroom training was extensive and covered subjects from the ecology of the prairie to the geology of the Rocky Mountains.
Bobcat Ridge Natural Area
Rabbit in a prairie dog hole at Coyote Ridge Natural Area
One of her favorite topics during the training ended up being prairie dogs. They are fascinating creatures, and a true keystone species, with about 160 other species benefiting from their presence. Prairie dogs turn the soil as they dig their complex tunnel systems, inadvertently aerating and fertilizing the soil. They are a great food source for larger animals like eagles, hawks, and ferrets. Plus, their abandoned burrows serve as homes for other animals, like burrowing owls and rabbits.
Master Naturalist training requires not just absorbing information, but also teaching it. In mid-April, each trainee had to create and present a lesson plan on a topic of their choice. Anna decided to give a talk about the water cycle and water conservation, geared towards 3rd graders. Her water cycle drawing connected with people, but the real hit was her Lego dioramas depicting the river and various ways humans use its water. She filled the river container with water, then poured the water into other containers representing a variety of city and agricultural uses. This demonstration visually showed that our water supply is limited, and that we need to conserve and share the water with wildlife.
Earlier this month, Anna was very excited to learn she’d been accepted into the Fort Collins Master Naturalist Program! The program provides 60 hours of ecological and interpretive training. After completing the training and giving two trial presentations, she’ll become a certified Master Naturalist. Anna will then volunteer to lead field trips and informative nature walks in the Natural Areas around Fort Collins.
Training began this week with classes in the ecology of the Rocky Mountains, taxonomy, life zones, aquatic invertebrates, and the shape and speed of rivers. The teachers and other trainees are awesome. Everyone is passionate about the natural world and each participant brings their own expertise. Anna will likely come away from the training with new friends in addition to new knowledge.
Looking at insects we found in the Poudre River
Yesterday’s class took place in the middle of the Poudre River, where she practiced dip netting and identification of aquatic invertebrates. So much fun!
Anna will learn much more in the coming month of classes, including:
- Geology of the Front Range
- Plant Ecology of the Shortgrass Prairie
- Mammals of the Rockies
- Riparian Native Trees and Shrubs
- Night Sky and Nocturnal Animals
- Birds of Fort Collins
- Interpretation and Outreach Techniques for Different Age Groups
Though we won’t write about all the classes here, we’ll make sure to include pieces of Anna’s newfound knowledge in our future hiking posts.
Roots and reflections in the Poudre
Want to take a peek into our book Pacific Crest Trail: A Journey in Photographs? Well, now is your chance. High Country News is featuring 12 of Chris’s PCT images on their website. (Soon the gallery will be highlighted on their homepage too!) Check the photographs out here:
High Country News also published a wonderful review in their print magazine and online. We smiled from ear to ear when we read it:
If you like what you saw and read, please consider purchasing a book for yourself or a good friend. Thank you.