September 6th, 2016
Devil's Garden, Arches, Moab, Utah
I awoke to sight of stars in the desert sky as I rubbed my eyes and stretched out my body in the back of my Saab 900 hatchback. I had been using the rear window as a sort of moon roof all night, watching the Milky Way dance with shooting stars. It was 4:30 a.m. As I fumbled around my many bags in the dark of the morning, trying to find my hiking gear and checking my camera equipment twice over by the light of my headlamp, out of the park and across town, the bride was having a very different morning. I pictured Laura drinking her morning coffee and doing her hair and makeup - her last (very) early morning before she would become Mrs. Feigal-Henry.
I met the groom and his parents at 5:40 a.m., sharp. I had already been there for fifteen minutes as I was too anxious to sit still at the campsite. I paced at the trail head waiting for the wedding party with still no sun in site. Two eyes caught the light of my headlamp. Then four. Then six. A family of deer had decided to keep me company. The headlights of the coming car spooked my new friends off. The groom and I set out, up the steep slick rock trail. He out paced me after the first two minutes. He must have been very anxious himself. Walker's mother stayed at my pace and kept my mind off of the weight on my back with conversation. The bride and her entourage had since started to ascend and were hot on our trail (wedding attire and all).
We reached Delicate Arch about 6:30 a.m. The Sun had started to cast a warm glow on the horizon. The majestic rocks of Moab began to light up with pastel hues of pinks, purples, reds and oranges. Laura made her way around the last turn of the trail to where Walker was fidgeting with his jacket and tie, eagerly waiting for her to tap him on the shoulder. After a sweet sunrise embrace and a few silly laughs, we made our way down to the arch for the ceremony of a lifetime.
A crowd of photographers and sightseers had begun to assemble around the arch but no one noticed them as the wedding continued. Walker and Laura seemed like the the only two people at the arch that late summer morning, just as they had intended. This place was sacred to them and would be forever more. Only during the first kiss, as a rolling thunder of applause and cheering came billowing out of the rocks behind us, did I realize we had quite an audience. A very enthusiastic audience!
We spent the rest of our morning hiking back down the trail taking fabulous photos in unreal locations and stopping for the occasional hiker to snap a photo as well. We made our way across the park to jump in the red sands of Sand Dune Arch before we parted ways. I could have photographed these two all day! In twenty years, when the vow renewal comes around, I'd love to be there, again and again.