Saturday, October 8, 2011

On An October Sunrise


"I've learned several lessons today and it's not even 7 am.

  • I learned that Sambas are NOT the best mountain hiking shoe. SUPER comfortable, ZERO traction. Hiking up a mountain is like trying to climb up a glacier in ice skates.
  • I learned that 3 layers may seem like an unnecessary and stupid idea as you are trekking up steep terrain and sweating, but they are absolutely ESSENTIAL once you reach the top of the mountain. It's COLD up there, all that wind!
  • Hiking up a steep, rocky, damp mountain in no-traction shoes would be a bad idea in the BEST of times. At 5:40am with darkness and a head lamp? Close to my WORST idea ever.
  • Climbing a mountain while you are trying to beat a deadline (say, the sunrise) just makes ALL those dangerous things I mentioned 10 times worse because instead of being CAREFUL, you are rushing to meet your deadline.
  • Hiking up Mt. Battie in 5:40am darkness and Sambas when the rocks are wet, I can't see anything, and I'm rushing to beat the sunrise? WORTH IT.
I've taken a bajillion pictures and I bet none of them are worth anything. My hands are freezing cold (but thanks to those layers, the rest of me is warm!). I will have to hike DOWN this mountain in Sambas. Yeah. Even MORE dangerous then going up. At least I will be able to see. But we all remember what happened the LAST time I hiked down Mt. Battie. And that was in HIKING BOOTS.

I'm wearing the same pants as then...

But you know what? None of that matters right now because I'm sitting sheltered from the wind in the Mt. Battie tower, I'm all alone up here, and the sunrise on the ocean and the bay is simply breathtaking.

I really wish I had a better camera. I really want to be a photographer of nature. AND a writer. DREAM jobs, right there.

I could see EVERYTHING from that tower when I got to the top at 6:10am. Well...not EVERYTHIG, but a lot of things. The lights of the cement factory in Rockland, the windmill lights on Vinalhaven Island flashing in the dim morning. All of Camden in slumber. And then little by little, I could see MORE. Each Island, each mountain, each tree in the distance as the sky lightened from dark purple to a light rosy blue.

I wish I was an artist.

Then the sun came.

I can't believe how quickly the earth moves and that we don't FEEL it. 3 minutes from the first pinprick of light, the sun had completely risen. I could see it's progression as earth spun on her axis. It was amazing over the ocean and the islands and I've never seen anything like it.

So yeah. Maybe this was a crazy, stupid idea. Maybe my whole family would have tried to talk me out of it. But I was GOING to be a the top of Mt. Battie at Sunrise one of these days. And it was worth it."

That's what I wrote in my notebook as the sun continued to rise on the mountain. And because I am here blogging, you know I made it down safely. Guess what? I even took pictures of the place I fell last time so you all can see! YAY!

Yeah it was a great morning. I workup at 5:10am, threw on some appropriate hiking clothes/layers, packed a small satchel with water, dry cereal, and my notebook, and armed with my headlamp I walked the dark streets of the Camden neighborhoods to the trial head. The stars were still out, full bright since the moon had set. Every time I see Orion in the sky, it's like greeting an old friend. And it makes me smile.

It was cold but it warmed up quickly as I took the steep half-mile hike up the mountain. It was dark. And it was dangerous. And every time I tripped a little I thought of how BAD an idea this was. Besides, I technically wasn't supposed to be in the park before 6am. But I wanted to see EVERYTHING. The sky grow light, that first hint of the sun, the FULL sunrise. And it was going to be a BEAUTIFUL morning for it.

Now that it's over and I am home safe, I don't regret it. But I would suggest not doing it alone. I know I won't ever do something like that alone again.

And you know what's funny? As I write all these things, all I can think of are all these perfect little life analogies.

About how sometimes you THINK you can see everything but then a bit at a time, details begin to stand out and everything REALLY comes into focus.

Or how life can take us up treacherous dark mountains, but if we are not alone, we need not fear. And we are never alone.

Or even something related to not being prepared (those SAMBAS).

Life lessons to remember.

You know what I thought was I was hiking down?

BESIDES "OH my gosh, that was a close one." Or "Okay, time for another butt scoot". Or "This was SUCH a bad idea". Or "I really need to stop talking to myself...Oh, HELLO other hiker who probably heard me say that out loud!"

I thought, "That sunrise was for me. It was all mine and no one else's. " Not in a SELFISH way. It's just that I was up there at the top of that mountain alone, with those wisps of clouds, and the cold breeze, and my dry cereal. And no one else experience what I experienced or will EVER experience something exactly like it.

This was my morning.

This is my life.

And while I am taking things one uncertain, small step at a time-I KNOW my goal. It's the top of the mountain. I'm not exactly sure how I am going to GET to the top. I only know that I need to go UP. And take each step as it comes. As it is revealed to me.

At the beginning of this week, I sent a "word vomit" letter to my little sister, Kirsten. What's word vomit? It's pretty much all the thoughts that involuntarily jettison themselves from my brain when I can't take it anymore and I just need to DUMP them. Usually I reserve this for my journals (so no one else has to deal). But this time I hurled the word vomit at a poor unsuspecting sister.

And do you want to know how she handled it? She wrote an insightful blog post about it. Here are a few of the wonderfully sound and perfectly timed bits of advice she gave.

"My heart went out to my sister, my friend, my kindred spirit who was seeking guidance through her life. As someone who was in roughly the same position a year ago, I have the deepest empathy."

It helps just to know that there is someone out there who gets it. Whose been there. Yeah, we ALL have. But Kirsten more recently. And even though I am 4 years older, I feel closer to her in age/maturity than I do a lot of other people in my life.

"Whatever decision you make, make it prayerfully and you might not get an answer with "angels and trumpets"(like my sister Emily said when I asked her how to know if marriage is the right thing), but if you don't get any red flags I say that that's the best answer for you."

Sound advice that I have received over and OVER again from various sources. But it's apparently one of those things I NEED to hear over and over again.

And then she shared a song that she wants to use in one of her short documentaries. And she kind of used it to tie in the advice she was giving.

"you'll notice, it has a kind of cinematic plot structure: there's the exposition, the inciting incident (where things start going crazy), the rising action (things keep building and get crazier), and the crisis (ultimate crazy moment where it's the biggest!), and the climax, when it starts to resolve. And the gorgeous ending bit would be the falling action where everything is new, a new normal. And, Sarah, this is how your life will play out in the near future. You're in the middle of the rising action right now, but your falling action will come and it will feel as good as this song."

It WAS a great song. It was a great post. It was great to know that someone has got my back. So THANK YOU, Kirsten. SO much for being awesome.

Okay, okay. All life thoughts are out there now. Want some PICTURES?

WHO want's a picture? Do YOU want a picture? Yeeeess, you want a picture. GOOD doggy, sit! Sit and I will give you a picture. Sit....

Sorry. Okay, here are pictures from this mornings hike.

As I predicted, most of the first pictures from when I got up there were useless. It was still pretty dark with only a thin line of purple and hazy orange on the horizon.

This was the first somewhat USABLE pictures. I wish I could tell you which islands these were. Isleboro, maybe?

The sky starts to lighten (Most of the pictures were taken from the top of the Mt. Battie tower).

The rosy hue of the morning off the stone of the Mt. Battie tower (and an example of my trying to be "creative" in my picture taking.)

The first peek of light.

Full rise.

Path on the water.

My favorite picture.

Sunrise view from the arches of the Mt. Battie Tower

In brightest day

Fall on top of Mt. Battie

Tree view

Mt. Battie Tower in the sunrise

Yet ANOTHER view of Camden

Okay. Prepare yourself for a terrifying sight. The next several photos are of the spot where I fell the last time I hiked down Mt. Battie. When LOOKED at the spot I thought, "no wonder I fell" and "I remember that kind of hurt". But looking it in photo form, it looks kind of unimpressive. Oh well.

See right in front you? The BIG boulder on the right and the smaller boulder on the left with that gap running through? I was on the BIG boulder, stepping over the gap onto the smaller boulder.

See? From here the gap doesn't look too large. There is even a blue trail marker practically SCREAMING "It's safe to step here because I say so!"

So here is where I stepped on the marker. The WRONG way apparently because I lost my footing, crashed to my knees, and began to tumble. Down that rocky slope. My destination? The base of that tree there to the left. Yeah it doesn't LOOK far, but it sure FELT far as I was falling.

Right there. THAT's where I ended up on my stomach. Ouch.

A view looking UP from where I fell.

And now for some other random pictures.

After the sun had risen, there was one couple who drove to the top. This is what they drove. Just out of curiosity, I want you all to put into the comments the kind of people you think they were. Who you are picturing.

And then this was the random, cute, colorful hat hanging on a tree that someone left behind. Sad. It's a cute hat. Maybe if it's still there when I go back up in a week or two I will claim it. WASH it of course. But it's super cute!

Okay that's all. Time to sleep a little more. I woke up EARLY.


Julina said...

I think that one reason I still get up for a New Year's sunrise is because my first one was overlooking the ocean (from a beach, though, not a mountain)... If we're in the same place this New Year's, wanna join me? We won't/don't have to talk - just take it in... magical.

Jeanne, the mom and grandmom said...

LOVE the photos and the blog post. And, I think it was an older couple with one in a wheel chair who occupied the van.

Emily S. said...

Okay, the first sunrise pic, pre-sun, is actually my favorite. What gorgeous saturated color!! :) :) Love your whole post, and I am glad you didn't die. Thanks for sharing your ponderings with us!

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