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Daniel & I have done some incredible mountain shoots recently. Every time we reach the top of a trail, my breath leaves my body in a giant gasp of amazement! We hiked the hardest mountain trail yet & those epic views at the top did not disappoint!
Whenever we prepare for a photo shoot, we do research on the location. We try to prepare for each session as best we can, but sometimes the interwebz can leave things out. Like every session before, I dug into Hawksbill what I could find about the trail. Nothing I read prepared me for the 3 mile drive down a winding gravel road & the last 1/4 of a mile straight up the mountain. We sure got our cardio in for the day and Katherine did in heels no less! I’m still in awe over her mad skills!
Last year I got to second shoot Katherine & Simon’s geometric wedding complete with a blue gown with McCardell Photography! Spending time with Katherine and Simon again was a real treat! I’m beyond proud of how they made it up that mountain with heeled boots no less! That huffing and puffing (and sweat!) was 100% worth it once we reached those views! My goodness, I had no breath left for a solid 10 minutes, WOW! If you ever get the chance to do this hike, DO IT! Just prepare yourself with lots of water & good shoes for hiking!
The Hawksbill hiking trail is beyond beautiful! If I could give anyone 1 million points for awesome, it would be Katherine & Simon for trusting us! It was wonderful to see their relationship a year later, deeper & more lovely than before. Thank you both for your adventurous hearts & not looking at us like crazy people once we FINALLY got to the trail head!



The Hawksbill Trailhead sign in Linville Gorge, NC Photography by Mabyn Ludke

After a bit of a GPS hiccup, we finally all made it down the winding gravel road to the Hawksbill Trail head.

Flowers along the Hawksbill Trail in the Pisgah National Forrest in Linville, NC by Mabyn Ludke Photography

There are so many lovely spots along this trail to stop and take pictures. I was enamored with all of the wildlife that the Pisgah National Forrest has to offer.

Couple snuggles on the Hawskbill Trail in Linville, NC Photo by Mabyn

Katherine & Simon are so amazing! Simon is a pilot in the Navy while Katherine runs her own phenomenal paper design business. Seriously, you need to check out Katherine Hallberg Designs to see her incredible talent & use of paper to create some of the prettiest backdrops I’ve ever seen!

Couple has fun on the Hawksbill Mountain Trail near Linville, NC with Mabyn Ludke Photography

One of Simon’s favorite activities is picking Katherine up and making her laugh…though he doesn’t normally do it on a mountain trail. πŸ˜‰

Black and White of a newly wed couple in the Linville, NC at the Hawksbill Mountain Trail. Photo by Mabyn Ludke

The further we walked the trail, the more we saw that a year of marriage had drawn these two even closer.

A husband holds his wife close as they gaze at the beautiful blue ridge mountain line by Mabyn Ludke Photography

One of our “rules” we tall our clients is to always stay connected. That can mean a myriad of things, but what it boils down to is natural poses. How would you naturally hold and love each other? Not only is it beautifully intimate, but it relieves any pressure of having to be stiff & posed. I just love this shot of Simon holding his bride close to him.

Mabyn Ludke Photography captured a beautiful couple on the Hawksbill Mountain Trail in Lineville, NC laughing with a beautiful mountin view behind them.

This was the first mountain view we found on the way up the trail. It was so beautiful, but we still had quite a bit of trail to go. Luckily, we had lots of entertainment for the hike!

Hawksbill Mountain Trail is a lovely spot for an anniversary photo shoot with Mabyn Ludke Photography

Katherine & Simon have done some modeling in the past, cuz ummm THEIR GORGEOUS! However, they’ve always been heavily posed. We take a very different approach when we do our couples sessions. Yes, we’ll pose if we need to, but we’d rather guide than physically put you into a pose. It’s always a weird shift, especially when you’re use to being in front of the camera and being told what to do. But when you’re in love, it takes no time at all to adjust to just being yourself. Katherine & Simon did it flawlessly!

A husband lovingly looks at this new bride while walking the Hawksbill Mountain Trail in Lineville, NC Mabyn Ludke Photography

Moody black and whites make my heart happy!

Couple cuddles on the Hawksbill Mountain Trail in Linville, NC Photo by Mabyn Ludke Photography

Katherine loves to pet Simon with her kitty claws…these two crack me up all day long!

Couple snuggles close in Linville, NC photo by Mabyn Ludke

Breathe each other in every day.

Hawksbille Mountain Trail anniversary Session with Mabyn Ludke Photography

Katherine’s eyes say it all in this photo, am I right?

The tops of Hawksbill Mountain Trail in Linville, NC Mabyn Ludke Photography

We finally reached the top of the trail & OH. MY. GOODNESS! Look at these epic views?

A gorgeous mountain view of the Linville Gorge from the Hawksbill Mountain trail near Linville, NC photography by Mabyn Ludke

You could practically see the whole of Linville Gorge from our vantage point! Absolutely amazing!

Man takes in the epic mountain view at Hawksbill Mountain in Linville, NC Photo by Mabyn

Simon was most grateful for the breeze that came through and he took a moment to “cool down” before we continued the shoot. πŸ˜‰

Grumpy Photographer at Hawksbill Mountain Trail in Linville, NC Mabyn Ludke Photography

This is the look I get when I tell Daniel “Hey! You’re in my shot boo!” Woops!

Couple basks in the sunlight on top of Hawksbill Mountain in the Appalachian mountains. Mabyn Ludke Photography

I think the grump look from Daniel was worth the shot tho…don’t you?

Ladies and gentlemen, this is what real love looks like. πŸ˜‰ These two are all about Dat Jelly!

Black and white of a couple snuggled together in Linville, NC on Hawksbill Mountain with Mabyn Ludke Photography

Once we get Katherine down, cuz that dress wasn’t the easiest to sit in, we got some spectacular cuddle shots!

Married couple explores the trails a top Hawksbill Mountain in Linville, NC with Mabyn Ludke Photography

This last bit of the shoot Katherine & I have been so excited about. She rented a gorgeous red gown that is incredibly beautiful. I’ve been having visions of mountains with red for months now just waiting for this shoot to get here! It did NOT disappoint!

Couple spends their anniversary exploring Hawksbill Mountain and all it has to offer with Mabyn Ludke Photography

Oh you know, we’re just going for a stroll on top of a mountain in an evening gown…LIKE YOU DO! πŸ˜‰

Lady in a red dress at Hawksbill Mountain in Linville, NC by Mabyn Ludke Photography

Katherine is so elegant she doesn’t have to do anything other than be her beautiful self. Every photo is just stunning!

Golden light streams through as newly weds snuggle at Hawksbill Mountain near Linville, NC. Photo by Mabyn

We got lots of funny comments from “real” hikers as we passed them on the way up the trail, but all of them were super encouraging. Our favorite comment tho was from a teenage girl who blurted out “AWE! Prom pictures?!” as soon as she saw Katherine & Simon. We all had a laugh as we imagined the most epic prom photo shoot ever!

Gold hour at Hawksbill Mountain with a beautiful couple celebrating their anniversary. Photography by Mabyn Ludke

There’s nothing quite like that mountain top light. We rushed to get as much of it as we could as storms rolled in from the west.

Couple holds hands in Linville, NC on top of Hawksbill Mountain. Mabyn Ludke Photography.

I’m obsessed with the subtle touches in this photo. The light breeze in Katherine’s hair, the soft clouds rolling in the background, and that look of love as Katherine gazes at her husband.

View of Linville Gorge from Hawskbill Mountain during an anniversary session with Mabyn Ludke Photography

As that yummy golden light got covered by the storms coming in, the mountains started to get that gorgeous blue tone that gives them their signature name. It gets me every time.

Hawksbill Mountain views are perfect for a couple celebrating their anniversary with Mabyn Ludke Photography

That look of love is definitely mutual. It’s written all over Simon’s face!

Blue and orange clouds surround a couple during their anniversary session at Hawksbill Mountain with Mabyn Ludke Photography.

Mountains are just one of my many obsessions in photography, but a close 2nd is clouds! They can be just as majestic and awe inspiring and they’re always changing and shifting. I noticed this pocket of golden light and just had to frame these two against it.

Couple climbs rocks on Hawksbill Mountain in Linville, NC with Mabyn Ludke Photography

We spied an even more epic view and attempted to make our way to it. It proved to be a bit more challenging than expected. Especially with dress shoes on! But these two wouldn’t back down!

Woman in a red dress against the blue ridge mountains of North Carolina on top of Hawksbill

Once we got to the spot tho, wowzah, another spectacular view! I’m so glad Katherine found that red dress too, it’s a perfect rich color to contrast the blues & greens of the mountain-scape!

Black and White of couple snuggling in Linville, NC with Mabyn Ludke Photography

After hours of hiking and photo taking, Katherine still looked flawless!

Epic views from the Hawksbill Mountain Trail during an anniversary shoot with Mabyn Ludke Photography

Once the sun was setting behind the clouds you could really start to see a fog settle over the gorge. It was so eerie and romantic. We kept shooting as the light started to fade and more clouds rolled in.

Couple laughs on top of a mountain near Linville, NC at Hawksbill photo by Mabyn Ludke

Clouds, mountains, laughter, & love. The perfect recipe for a photograph!

I’m not sure if these two were still being ΓΌber cute or sleeping at this point. πŸ˜‰ They were workin’ it HARD!

Keep shooting past sunset, that twilight light is unlike anything else!

Just as I was about to setup one last shot raindrops started to fall. I scrambled to find the perfect spot to snag the raindrops. It took some maneuvering, but we finally got there!

Within moments the rain had fled and night had officially fallen. There was JUST enough light to grab this last epic view before heading back down the mountain. This shoot put us all to the test, but the results were 100% worth every drop of sweat and sore muscle that we encountered. Thank you Katherine & Simon for everything! <3

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An Adventurous Hawksbill Mountain Anniversary with Katherine & Simon