A welcome cool breeze blows over the raised platform overlooking the mountains of northwest New Jersey just before sunrise on a Tuesday morning. The clouds dance in the sun’s pastel painting, illuminating the rolling hills in a soft glow. It doesn’t feel like the state known for farmland and suburban sprawl. It feels lonesome in a good way. The morning has given me energy that seems to only come with the joy of nature’s beauty and its unique scenery. At this point it feels like I could do anything.
Providence is a beautiful, small city with water everywhere, making the sunrise quite picturesque from wherever you see it. I was lucky enough to be working about 100 feet from this view at dawn so I was able to sneak off and watch the light arrive and start reflecting off of everything. A lone kayaker paddled down the river in the morning calm. Sadly I had to pull myself away to go back to work, but the views from all around the nearby park were fantastic. This is certainly a city I haven’t spent enough time in for how close it is to where I’ve lived most of my life.
After waking in the dark and driving the sinuous roads that lead through the mountains of the Olympic Range I found myself walking quickly up a steep path in the early morning light. The sun had yet to cross the peaks, and it was chilly for August. After some switchbacks and open trail walking I made it to my destination. The top of Hurricane Ridge is expansive and majestic. Jagged mountains surrounded me while rolling meadows lay at my feet. Olympic marmots whistled to each other while everything else was silent above the clouds as the sun showed its face and washed over me as I sat in awe for an hour or more taking in the incredible power of nature.
Seeing views like this in New Jersey is something unexpected but always welcome. The beautiful views from High Point State Park are unmatched in the state in my opinion. They call it Skylands for a reason. Hiking up the steep ridge in the morning fog to find a view of the sun coming up over the smoky mountains northwest New Jersey was an amazing feeling. I could have stayed there all day, but as the sun got higher I moved on. The views persisted, but never rivaled those few moments of peaceful, silent beauty at this overlook.
One morning last year I woke up in an AT shelter in North Jersey before sunrise and then had a transcendent morning of hiking through High Point State Park as the sky changed colors all around me. From the vantage point higher than anything in New Jersey I could see rolling mountains all around and a sky bigger than I knew New Jersey ever had. Watching from the overlook tower while the cool morning breeze dried the sweat on my face, I was involuntarily smiling the whole time. It was one of my favorite moments.
Morning in the midwest had such epic beginnings when the sunrise began nearly an hour before our star crossed the horizon. The pillowy clouds stretched on for miles in the sky, carrying the soft morning glow from around the curve of the earth and lighting our pre-dawn drives. The great expanses that make up the middle of the country are quiet except for the occasional roar of tractor trailers on the interstate and the thoughts in our heads as we watch the day unfold.
Being up before sunrise has an energy that is invigorating. There is potential to the day while you wait for the sun to break the horizon. Staring at snow-covered mountains towering in every direction around you in the blue tones of early morning is magical. And when the first warm glow hits the peak of the tallest point, it radiates with life-affirming color while it slowly swallows up the darkness and ushers in the morning.
Some people enjoy familiar surroundings and the comfort of home, but for me, waking up to a new sunrise in a different place every day is perfect. Opening the tent and seeing a colorful sky over Lake Powell was a great surprise since I didn’t set an alarm or plan to wake up. The colors briefly streaked before the sun came over the tops of the canyons and began to shimmer in the lake water.
One of the challenges to being on the road is finding a place to sleep every night. Places like Wyoming, which we drove through yesterday, don’t have a lot of places to stop. We set up camp at a rest stop inside a picnic shelter with our tent and it was windy but good. The morning brought this incredible sunrise just outside our tent food. Sometimes you get lucky.
Couch surfing has been a big part of our trips for the past few years. Once we discovered the network of likeminded people who offered their homes for travelers to stay we have been getting more into it ever since. I’ve met some great people that I keep in touch with from all around the country and internationally. This shot is from the deck of last night’s host at sunrise near Lyons, Colorado. Cheri was a great host, and her house was beautifully located high up in the hills with views in all directions. I’ve really enjoyed all of my experience so far with couch surfing, and I can’t wait for more.
Omaha surprised me last year with how much they have going on. This year I had to stop again, so we went to Gene Leahy Mall for sunrise. I love the views of the skyline from along the water and the morning light was great. There are lots of trails to take around this area whether you are biking or running or just out for a walk. After shooting some photos we went down the big slides they have built into the park (it’s true!) and then went for a run through Heartland of America Park and over the awesome pedestrian bridge into Iowa.
We got up quite early to go find a spot near Lake Michigan for sunrise. It’s a good thing we did since it’s not that easy to find parking along Lake Shore Drive. The sky was great and the sunset was beautiful over the water as it lit up the city. I wanted to post a shot from behind my camera since this is what I see a lot of the time and I just really like this shot.
Spending a couple of nights at The Lodge at Bretton Woods in New Hampshire was a great little vacation. Besides being a nice room, with access to a hot tub, pool, bars, and game rooms at the swanky Mount Washington Hotel, we also got this view just off of our balcony. We got ourselves up at sunrise (which is actually quite later than the posted time since the sun has to get over those mountains…) and had this brilliant golden glow fill the room as it filtered through the hanging ice and lit up the valley. Absolutely worth the wait.
Driving the western edge of Rocky Mountain National Park at dawn was like waking up but feeling like I’m still in a dream. Everything was soft and quiet, and there were no people except the occasional other driver. Shadow Mountain Lake was a hidden surprise just as the sun was thinking about cresting the horizon where I could pull over and enjoy the view in the very cold summer morning air. I would have stayed longer if I wasn’t losing feeling in my fingers.
Whenever I’m up for a beautiful sunrise I start thinking I should be getting up early every day to witness the beautiful light that appears before the sun arrives. Union Lake in Millville is the perfect place to see sunsets and sunrises, and even though I live a few minutes away, I often miss them. We never know how many more we’ll get, so I should start making an effort to see more of these.
Some days you get to see the beauty that’s right in your backyard– almost literally this time. This park is right around the corner from where I live, and it also is right next to the house I grew up in. I spent a lot of time sledding down these hills, riding my bikes around the paths, and throwing rocks into the pond. Seeing this sunrise as I drove by for work so many years later, it felt like a whole different place altogether. Even if things don’t change, it’s the way we look at them that makes the difference.
Another from Washington, this is from the Blue Lake hike I did on a whim as I passed by before dawn. The trail was beautiful and rocky and the cold morning warmed quickly as I climbed the mild grade with the sun peeking over the mountains to the east. The lake at the end was pretty, but my favorite part was the changing light on the trees and the mountains as I made my way up.
I’ve been working for Flo-Foto, a company that photographs running races like The Color Run, for a while now. One of the opportunities the job provides me is traveling a lot and seeing the sun rise in new, beautiful places all the time. This weekend was my last race for the year while we wait for the warm weather to return. We were in the parking lot at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland. Those of you who are sports fans might know the area as the home of the Cardinals and the Orioles. For me, it was just another parking lot with a beautiful sunrise over the empty space that would soon be filled with thousands of runners covered in colorful powder. Here’s to a good year of races and more to come!