I had the pleasure of being on a mountain top for two of the best sunsets this fall, with my good friend Monica, and her dog Teak (That’s MR. Teak to you;).
They’ve been all over these mountains, and together have completed all the 4000’s in New Hampshire. But they had never done a sunset/sunrise hike that requires hiking in the dark early or late with a headlamp. Being very comfortable with the whole night hiking thing, I invited them for one before: Story here: https://m.facebook.com/142132829196768/photos/a.450074475069267/1126787897397918/?type=3&source=54 ……It was awesome in so many ways, and they were hooked:)!
This past week, they were able to join me again on not one, but two sunset hikes! The first one was a very long, but good day….. I got up at 5am, to photograph locally before going to work at my gallery. I spent a super busy day with customers and framing. Monica and Teak drove up to meet me at closing (5pm), and after a brief meeting, and big happy leaps from Teak, we piled into my car and drove off. We arrived at the trail head about a 1/2 hour later, donned our packs full of hiking and photo gear, and headed up the trail. While fairly uneventful, we both hadn’t done much hiking recently, so we felt the effort (pretty steep). Surprisingly we still made fairly good time and arrived at the spot about 20 minutes before sunset.
Upon arrival, the only problem was the sky had completely clouded over. Oh well I thought, it looks like I’m not going to get a sunset shot tonight, but it was awesome to get out with friends, breathe in the wonderful smells of the woods, and break a good sweat. The views however, of peak foliage below and beyond was stunning in any weather! So, I immediately set my tripod up and composed the scene I wanted….just in case. No sooner had I sat down, breaking out a snack and water, my friend produced two cold beers from her pack, she had kept secret…..Sweeeet:)! She chose a very appropriate accompaniment for a fall sunset hike, Pumkinhead Ale. She even packed it in a bag with ice, to keep it cold! It tasted and felt so good going down, after busting our butts uphill:)!
As we sat there drinking the cold beer, snacking, and taking in the view, the clouds looked like they were beginning to thin out a bit. We talked about the fact you never know what weather’s going to do in the mountains, until it does. So, as the sun was setting it kept clearing out, until all of a sudden some nice color appeared in the sky. I began to take a couple pictures, while Monica took some of her own of the scene, Teak and myself. Then the color intensified, more and more, until we were staring at the most magical view of intense color in the sky, matched only by the foliage below! It really made you stop and stare. It was one of the finest sunsets I’ve seen up high, and we were so lucky to be there and enjoy it:)! Teak too!
After taking a bunch of pictures, of a couple compositions, the color slowly dimmed to darkness. We still had a long way to go down, so we repacked, put our head lamps on, and headed down into the night. Tough guy Mr. Teak, was pretty apprehensive the first night hike last year, always staying within the beam of light, but seamed to come into his own this time. He would venture beyond the beam, so much so, that we had to real him back in a few times. Hiking at night is fun, but even with a headlamp you really have to watch your footing, as shadows can be wet or dry, slippery or not. And the lone stream crossing becomes quite challenging. Nonetheless we soon neared the bottom around 9:30, as the moon was beginning to rise through the trees. Still feeling the excitement of the stunning sunset and excitement of hiking in the dark, we piled in the car hoping we might make last dinner call somewhere…..and we were rewarded with some delicious Shannon Door pizza to cap off the wonderful evening:). That was hike number one, with a colorful day drive throughout the White Mountains the next day.
Hike number two was a bit easier, with less elevation gain, and felt very relaxed. Again, the forecast was for clouds, but was clearing as we arrived on top. While not quite as dramatic, the view was exceptional also. And sure enough, as the sun began to set we were treated to another amazing sunset from up high…and I was treated again to a surprise cold beer reward:)! We sat and watched the color intensify, and turn into night. Another headlamp lit descent ended the day, with smiles all around, and a delicious dinner at the Wildcat Inn and Tavern. Two amazing summit sunsets in three days, not bad:)!