Back in March I got an email from my good friend and fellow Trail Ambassador Dirt Monger telling me how he had met the most amazing woman. The cosmic collision of these two was so strong, he decided to alter his plans of hiking multiple long distant trails this year to hike the PCT with her.
As the snows melted and spring arrived “Dirt Monger” set out with “Bearclaw” and together they traveled north along the PCT. Dirt Monger proposed to Bearclaw atop Mt Baden Powell and she said yes.
In June, I got an email from Dirt Monger with their wedding plans. They planned to get married on July 28th along the PCT at Timberline Lodge, and they asked me to marry them. I was floored at the request and of course agreed to do so.
With a quick Google search, I found the Universal Life Ministries. Five minutes and $28 later, I was legally allowed to marry and bury folks in Oregon.
Unfortunately, they were waylaid when they reached Ashland. Bearclaw had gotten the “Big G”- giardia that is, and needed to get meds and rest. The two of them lost nearly a week in Ashland as she recovered, so instead of hiking to Timberline Lodge, they came off trail at highway 58 instead.
A hitch from a semi-truck hauling hay dropped them on the shoulder of I-5 in Eugene, where they rented a car and drove to Portland. When they arrived, we hung out and did what hikers do: Talked about our hikes this season, drank some cold beers, and ate! I fed them well with fresh Pacific Northwest albacore tuna and venison steaks, roasted beets, a variety sides, and ice cream.
When we went over the details of the wedding ceremony I asked what I should wear.
“Your hiking outfit, of course! And bring your Kumo Backpack”, was the response.
The day before the wedding, we started with a huge breakfast and then hit the town to get ready. We first made a stop at Next Adventure, the local Gossamer Gear retailer in Portland and a great shop. They needed to replace a few things for their hike, and Dirt Monger needed a clean shirt to wear at the wedding.
When we were done, we crossed the river to downtown and got Dirt Monger a wedding ring, ate lunch, bought a dress for Bearclaw to get married in, had giant ice cream cones at Salt & Straw, bought a bouquet, and made it to the airport by 5:30 to pick up Bearclaw’s kids.
When Sunday morning came, the weather was perfect and Bearclaw’s youngest son was blown away with the beauty of Oregon and Mt Hood. When we arrived at the parking lot, we loaded up our packs with beer and champagne. I fit eighteen 12 oz cans, and 4 bottles of champagne in my Kumo, and it carried quite well. We also had 3 dozen Voodoo Donuts in lieu of a wedding cake. We left the parking lot and climbed a short way to the PCT and headed North, the direction these two have been traveling since spring.
As we came up to where the road from the lodge crosses the PCT, a dozen thru-hikers Dirtmonger and Bearclaw had been hiking on and off with since Mexico, were anxiously awaiting them. This crew had made the huge effort to get there just for the wedding! Cold Rainer Beer and Voodoo Doughnuts were shared as everyone caught up.
We walked as a group a short way to a small grove of trees; the perfect spot to marry these intrepid souls.
The thru-hikers and guests formed a semi-circle, I planted my LT4’s in the ground in front of me as an altar, laid down my pack, and with Dirt Monger and Bearclaw holding hands in front of me, I began the ceremony with some words borrowed by Robert Frost.
The ceremony also included short speeches from Dirt Monger and Bearclaw. A mutual friend and another Trail Ambassador, “Snorkel,” helped me out by pulling together quotes from their blogs that would work well in the ceremony. As the words flowed and the two lovers stared at one another, it was as if our small rag-tag band were the only people on the mountain.
The two exchanged vows, slipped rings on each other’s fingers, and I proclaimed them husband and wife.
With cheers and hoots from all the hikers, we welcomed this new marriage into the world. The ceremony closed with a quote from Edward Abbey. Then the thru-hikers lined either side of the trail, lifted their trekking poles into a saber arch and watched the two newlyweds dance happily down the trail.
Champagne bottles were opened, toasts were made, and a series of wedding photos, the likes of which have never been seen before emerged. The Bride was not only wearing a beautiful white lace dress, but had her trusty Altra Lone Peak 1.5 trail runners on her feet.
The bride wore a Gossamer Gear Quick Sack as she threw the bouquet, while the wedding guests wore their tattered and hard-earned trail stained clothes, and carried their ultra-light packs.
The whole thing seemed like some advertisement you would see in some alternative backcountry wedding magazine. It was as if “Modern Bride” and “Backpacker” magazines had hooked up and produced an offspring.
When the beer and champagne ran out, the group moved inside Timberline Lodge and enjoyed a nice lunch and celebration before dispersing back to the trail to continue on their journeys north.
What I took away from this day was how fortunate I am to be part of such a wonderful and caring community that long distance hiking is. If I hadn’t met Dirt Monger at the ALDHA-West Gathering last fall, I might have missed out on a wonderful friendship and the most fun and meaningful wedding that two soul mates hiking the PCT together could have imagined.
All my best, Dirt Monger and Bearclaw! I’ll see you two down the trail somewhere in this wild and wonderful wilderness we call life.
This post was contributed by Reverend Allgood.