For Tammy Dee and Steven Kreft, outdoor adventure is inextricably entwined in their relationship.
Steven, a math teacher, and Tammy, a school social worker, met about three years ago when they chaperoned a backpacking trip to Ross Lake with the Mount Vernon High School outdoor leadership club.
“Mount Vernon has 120 staff, so it’s really easy not to know everyone,” Tammy says.
After that first trip, the two started taking hikes through the Chuckanuts together. Steven, who was born and raised in Bellingham, introduced Tammy to hikes she’d never heard of in the Mount Baker Wilderness.
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Tammy, who moved to Bellingham from Seattle, lived and worked in Australia for about a year, went to school in Chicago and initially lived in California, where her family is.
In 2015, the couple took a national park road trip, stopping through Glacier, the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. Though Tammy didn’t know it, Steven had ordered a ring from a seller on Etsy. Unfortunately, it didn’t arrive before they set out.
“The whole time I thought it might happen on this trip, so it kept me on my toes,” Tammy says.
Steven finally got the chance to ask Tammy to marry him late one summer day that year, when they were walking their dog, Luna, on the east side of Lake Whatcom. It was raining a little that day, which was nice because the popular trail was not very busy, Steven remembers.
I’ve always known that when we get married I wanted it to be in the wilderness, since that’s where we met and where we spend a lot of our time.
About a year later, they decided to elope.
“I am not one for planning big events. I wanted something really simple,” Tammy says. “I’ve always known that when we get married I wanted it to be in the wilderness, since that’s where we met and where we spend a lot of our time.”
Working at the school, the two get summers off and spend much of their free time hiking, so they knew plenty of places where they might go.
“For me, going up into the Mount Baker wilderness – to me that’s the most beautiful place I’ve seen in my life,” Tammy says.
Though it was difficult to narrow down the list of options, the couple decided to exchange vows at Artist Point, as lakes, valleys and the mountains are all within short range there.
“We picked the location because we wanted a little of everything,” Steven says. “We wanted to keep it simple. We wanted it to just be us, just do our thing. We’re already established, so we didn’t need wedding gifts; we really didn’t want wedding gifts.”
Their families were supportive, and Tammy’s family especially was not surprised, because they know that’s the kind of thing she would like.
“One of the things that was really nice about eloping was we didn’t really plan it,” Tammy says. “I really love the fall and love it up there because all the blueberry bushes are turning a really bright red.”
However, fall weather is fickle, so the couple sought out a photographer who would not only take beautiful images on their big day, but who also was flexible.
We picked the location because we wanted a little of everything. We wanted to keep it simple, we wanted it to just be us, just do our thing.
Grayson Glasby of Jagger Photography fit the bill, and was happy to set tentative dates as the couple checked the weather a week out and figured out their plan.
On Sept. 26, the weather made for a perfect afternoon to make their way up the trails at Artist Point, in wedding dress and suit.
“Our vows were important to us, and being in that beautiful of a place was important,” Tammy says. “I’m kind of shy, so I wanted to be able to exchange vows and make it something really meaningful in the environment I felt comfortable in.”
The stellar views of lakes and valleys and peaks afforded the couple and their photographer plenty of opportunities to capture that special moment forever.
Both say they wouldn’t change anything about that day.
“I would say I have no regrets at all,” Tammy says. “It was not a stressful experience. It’s nice to spend the time you have together, especially when you’re early in being engaged, you’re not stressing about planning something that might just please other people.”
With the money they saved by not paying for a wedding, the two were able to buy sea kayaks that will last for many adventures to come. For their honeymoon, they expect to take an Alaskan adventure tour or travel overseas while on their next summer break.