ENJOYING THE WAKENING OF THE WORLD
I have not known a more peaceful moment in my life than sitting in silence and waiting for this small corner of the world to explode in color as the sun peaked the layers of distant mountain ridges.
I awoke at a primitive campsite in pre-dawn darkness, early enough the stars were still as magnificent as when I saw them around midnight, but late enough the soft chirping of the earliest risers earned my consciousness. I slid my feet into my boots, climbed out of my hammock, and turned my eyes to the sky. Forget trying to pinpoint constellations, there's simply too many stars to view. They seem to stack on top of each other, spreading in every direction, as far as the eye can see and beyond.
I moved quickly, knowing that waiting for me a short two miles down the road was Bear Rocks. I'd seen pictures of the sunrise from this exact spot weeks prior while researching for my camping trip and I knew it was a moment everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime. It was still too dark to see, so I moved by feel and had my hammock undone from its trees and packed into my backseat a few moments later. Now there was an ever so present light to the eastern sky, I was giddy with excitement as I eased my car onto FR 75 and coasted down the dirt road. It wasn’t long before I could make out the rock formations that form the beginning of Bear Rocks, black outlines against a deep blue background. This moment almost didn't feel real as I cut the headlights and allowed my eyes to adjust to my surroundings.
There were less than a dozen cars in the lot, most people having trekked into the Wilderness to find campsites for their overnight backpacking trips. I could see a few others a short distance away as I began my scramble through the rock field at the edge of Allegheny Mountain while the sky slowly started glowing with color.
Clutching my camera, I stood there in perfect silence and watched the world wake up. The only sounds were the birds and the gentle mountain breeze. In just a few moments, right before my eyes, the world went from dark and gray to intense orange, gold, red, and blue. Suddenly, I thought the breeze was chilling me through my windbreaker, but the sanctity of the moment is what brought goosebumps to my skin.
Suddenly, there she was. I could feel the sun's warm rays on my cheeks as she crested the most distant ridges. Time seemed to stand still as the light grew brighter and brighter, the wispy clouds reflecting red, then pink, a vibrant orange, then finally settling on their true color, a white of almost satin texture, lingering in their place in the sky. What seemed like hours as this sunrise unfolded before me was really only a handful of minutes - minutes that I've never experienced anything like before.
I didn't want to leave this moment. But I was there for a purpose. Those Wilderness trails weren't gonna hike themselves and now I was wasting daylight.