Haley Butler - Branton Sorbel
Growing up in an area like North Idaho, it isn’t uncommon for a child to look out the window in the morning and experience the unparalleled panoramic phenomena that is Schweitzer Mountain. What is less common, however, is a child grew up with Schweitzer as her playground, knowing it like she knows her own backyard - even calling the mountain home - or at least an escape. Whatever it was, I was a girl who loved a mountain.
I began skiing on Schweitzer Mountain shortly after I could walk. I slipped off the T bar that used to glide up the bunny hill during lessons when I was four; I jumped off chair five when I forgot to ski off; I picked wild huckleberries in the summer with my family; I went on dates to Schweitzer; I taught my future-husband how to ski on Schweitzer. I had a history with the mountain. I had learned how to be brave on skis. The mountain challenged me, showed me defeat and taught me how to triumph. Schweitzer had given me some of the best moments of my life. It only seemed natural to share with the mountain one of the greatest days of my life.
When Branton proposed to me, the first place I thought of having the wedding was the top of Schweitzer, but the idea seemed expensive - and unrealistic. Come to find out, during a quick meeting with the Schweitzer wedding planner (and my ski-loving patrons for parents who wouldn’t have it any other way) it was within our budget! The event planning staff did an incredible job in making all the arrangements and working above and beyond to make our wedding day exactly what we wanted.
We invited our guests by way of recycled petal-lined paper. We decided against using programs or handing out favors to avoid littering and instead, we treated our guests to several irreplaceable sense-intoxicating moments of feeling the mountain wind against their skin and witnessing views of grandeur offered by a ride on the Great Escape Quad - the chosen path to our ceremony site.
Somewhere in between the Pend Orielle run and the Stiles run, we exchanged our vows. Our isle runner of beargrass, stones and earth was laced with wildflower petals. Our ring-bearer carried a bed of moss, the rings nestled in a bird’s nest. Our music represented who we are, and the songs of Dave Matthews, Ben Harper, Enya and Jack Johnson resounded in a natural ampitheatre of pine and spruce. We whispered thanks to the earth in our ceremony prayers, asked the sky for blessings, and recited the vows we wrote interlaced with notes of nature, our voices accompanied by the mountain wind, the flutter of butterfly wings, the songs of birds and the distant voices of happy hikers and huckleberry pickers. Our vows echoed off the clouds and settled in our hearts, drenched in the warmth of the mountain sun. To celebrate our unity and to give back to the earth that presented the platform for the lives we had started together, we united the roots of a baby pine to the mountain earth, nurtured it with water, and hope it will withstand it’s first mountain winter.
After the ceremony, Our guests were treated to the downhill ride on the Great Escape Quad and ducked into Taps for an evening celebration. The mouthwatering food prepared by the Chimney Rock Grill fueled our guests for the night of dancing and the excellent bar tender made sure no one went thirsty. We danced the night away in an aura of candlelight and the mountain moon that poured through the windows, stopping only to cut our cake - a homemade bite of heaven topped with wild mountain huckleberries. On July 26, 2008, we celebrated love, we celebrated the earth, we celebrated our family and our friends, we celebrated eachother, we celebrated the best way we knew how - with fantastic drinks and wonderful music - and we celebrated Schweitzer.
Our night concluded in the Selkirk Lodge suite, which is where I’ll end my story of the greatest days Schweitzer has given me . . . yet.
photos by Kirk Mastin