Just before the sun peaks above the horizon there is a silence about the forest. A stillness. It’s as if all creatures have paused to acknowledge the dawning of another day.
Ever since my first sunrise on a mountain top, back when Ronald Reagan was president, I have sought them. I crave them. So much so that I will hike a mile in the dark without coffee just to catch one.
Often I am deep in the treeline without a viewpoint. I know the sunrise is near by the grayness of the sky, barely discernible through the thick forest canopy. Even within the forest there is a measurable stillness just before the sun breaks the horizon.
A voice calling my name. Battling the fog of my waking mind I realized it was my friend asking if I still wanted to go. I brought my phone out of standby, trying to focus my eyes. Oh no! It was 5:47 AM! We were supposed to be up by 5:00 AM to hike just under a mile to catch a sunrise.
I responded that I didn’t think I could make it. I heard the disappointment in his voice. Yet even as I spoke I had begun an internal struggle with my thoughts. I wanted to be on that tower to watch the world come alive. I did some quick calculations. I considered the location of my things scattered about the tent. I sprung to action.
By 6:11 AM, just 24 minutes after coming out of a benadryl-induced fog, we were on the trail with headlamps on. Fully packed. And walking as fast as we could on a dark trail.
The Sound of Silence
We made it. With only minutes to spare, we made it. Descriptions and pictures can only provide so much. You just have to be there. A panoramic vista of mountains extending to foothills. Valleys filled with a foggy inversion. And an orange sky extending laterally beyond what the eyes can capture in a single frame.
This is my most recent sunrise. By the time coffee was in my hands the sun was nearly a finger’s width above the horizon.
Will I see a sunrise as beautiful? As capturing? Maybe. Probably. Hopefully I will already be sipping from my coffee during the next one.
Whether I’m in the forest, or on a mountain top, I am certain of at least one thing. I will be able to hear the silence.