My friend has been wanting to do a sunrise hike with her dog Mr. Teak, for some time now. So I recently brought her to one of my favorite spots, overlooking the Eastern end of Crawford Notch. As some of you are aware, I’ve been dealing with some spinal issues, and wasn’t sure how wise it might be to hike very long or high, with weight on my back. Consequently my friend Monica was kind enough to play Sherpa’, by carrying my camera and tripod:). Teak was no help in this department.
We awoke at 2:45am, in order to be out the door and on the trailhead by 3:30am. We soon donned our headlamps, slung our backpacks over our shoulder, and started off into the night. Having hiked many times alone in the dark, to attain sunrise and sunset images, I’m quite comfortable doing so. Sure, it’s always a bit eerie, walking in the middle of the woods at night, with only a few feet visible around you, but I know there really is nothing to fear. Your senses are a bit more aware however, listening to every twig snap, rustle of leaves, or occaissonal owl hoot, and consequently she was glad that Teak and I were accompanying her. Even though the forecast called for cooler weather, we quickly found ourselves removing layers, as we started our hike in the lower flats.
Monica’s hiking companion Mr. Teak is a well travelled dog in the mountains, having accompanied her to the top of all the 4000 footers. Like most dogs, he usually insists on hiking in the front, often 10-15’ ahead of us. But tonight (some might say ’morning’, but anything before 4:30 is still night to me;) with his inexperience of hiking in the dark, Teak was unusually nervous, clearly staying close to be within the beam of the headlamp, and for the first time ever, sometimes relinquishing the lead to mash himself between us. He was even an uncharacteristic scaredy cat at times, once when we came across an enormous toad in the middle of the trail. We shone our lamps on it, and Teak approached very very cautiously to check it out. Then just as he got his nose close enough to examine, the toad slowly stretched it’s legs to move, and he leaped backward as if being stung by a bee! Things that go bump in the night!
After the toad incident, we continued on and up through the steep section, eventually breaking out onto the first ledge, to see the night sky expanding above us. Being up high with a crystal clear sky, the stars were as thick and bright ever, a bright kaleidoscope of pinpoints in the dark night. As we neared the top, a slight glow began to appear along the Eastern Horizon. We were just in time. There was a slight breeze, and we quickly donned our coats, wool caps and gloves. With no visible clouds, I wasn’t expecting much photographically wise, but set up my tripod and camera in the dark anyway.
The warm glow of sunrise was beginning, and I casually took a few images. Then as the light began to come on, and I could see better, something magical began to happen. The low clouds and fog started to rise and gently roll across the eastern view, catching the warm glow of the sun. When the clouds rose in front of the sun, it created a wonderful orange/yellow orb, and gently warmed the trees and rocks in the foreground with it’s morning alpenglow. I quickly tried to compose an image or two that revealed the beauty of the moment, and was pleased when the long exposure created a drifting effect with the low clouds. The low clouds moved in and out, and we all watched and marveled at the sight, as even Mr. Teak sat enjoying the first rays of sun:).