Hometown or Dream Destination

A Montana Wedding Resource

A Wedding Worth the Walk

A Wedding Worth the Walk

By Joseph Bullington

Enterprise Staff Writer

In the weeks before her marriage to Peter Davenport, Hilary Fabich would say she was going wedding dress shopping and then she would go out and shop for hiking clothes.

But she wasn’t planning to run away into the mountains — at least not alone. Come Aug. 9, she and Davenport made the trek 5 steep miles up to Pine Creek Lake, where the couple exchanged wedding vows as Mount McKnight, Black Mountain and 40 dedicated friends and family members looked on.

Fabich, who was born and raised in Livingston, and Davenport, who is English, met when they were both graduate students at Cambridge in the United Kingdom — she studying chemical engineering and he studying biochemistry.

Until she moved to Europe, Fabich said, she had hiked to Pine Creek Lake at least once a year since she was 5 years old. When she brought Davenport home to Montana for the first time, she knew where she wanted to take him. And, later, when they decided to marry, they thought they’d like to hold their wedding there.

We thought it would be fun to do something that we love doing together for the ceremony,” she said.

Their family and friends were encouraging, and even Fabich’s grandmother, who was an avid hiker when she was younger, was very supportive that they wanted to do their wedding in the mountains, even though she wouldn’t be able to make it up. The couple planned to also hold a big reception at Fabich’s parent’s house south of Livingston — complete with a roasted pig, a bonfire, badminton, an oversized version of Bananagrams, “Fabenport Blonde” beer brewed specially by a friend, and a whole lot of tart cherry pies made with fruit from her parents’ trees — so everyone could help them celebrate.

At first they thought it would be a small gathering: Fabich’s and Davenport’s parents, a few close friends.

“When we sent out invitations explaining our plans, we were shocked that the group kept growing,” said Fabich. They hammered home to their guests the difficulty of the trail, which gains more than 3,600 feet of elevation over just a few miles, “trying to scare them off a little.”

But when the day finally came — a Thursday (“We didn’t want to make the lake a more crowded place for people who were there on the weekend,” Fabich explained) — about 40 people set off up the trail in the early morning. The youngest was 2 years old, and made the journey in a backpack.

The oldest participant, Fabich’s 82-year-old boss Eiichi Fukushima, set off later than most of the hikers but was still one of the first to reach the lake.

On the way down, Fukushima forgot his camera somewhere along the trail, and climbed up again the next day to retrieve it. In 1967, it turns out, Fukushima was part of an expedition that became the first to summit the tallest peak in Antarctica.

When everyone reached the lake around 2 p.m., the ceremony began. It was simple and short. They had brought nothing special with them, nothing unusual for a hike — just some water and food and a water filter, warm layers, a first-aid kit.

“Pine Creek Lake is beautiful and we felt we didn’t want to change that environment,” Fabich explained.

Fabich and Davenport thanked everyone for making the effort to be there and, after a short roast of Davenport by his brother, the couple read their wedding vows to each other. They had each written their personal vow after taking a hike together the week earlier, during which they discussed what they wanted their marriage to be.

Mountain Lake Wedding

In 10 or 15 minutes, the ceremony concluded.

“We all toasted with our water bottles after we were
married,” Fabich said.

And then, led by Fabich and Davenport, they all jumped in the lake.

Photos by John Chattaway and Simon D’Alton