More Outdoor Adventures and an Amazing Sunrise

This past weekend we went to Acadia National Park, a large forested area on an island in Maine. It took about 6 hours to get there, and the night we arrived, we weren’t even sure where we were going to stay. Thankfully we were able to find a spot in the park, so at about 9pm at night, in the dark Maine night, my brother, his friend, Tri, and I pitched our tent.

Maine Coast

Our weekend included lots staring at the vast, beautiful expanses of coast, introducing Tri to his first s’mores (not sure if this is a tradition outside of the US, but a s’more is basically roasted marshmallows stuck between two graham crackers with a piece of chocolate thrown in–a camping tradition), and hiking up a nerve-wracking but really fun trail called the Precipice.

But by far the best part of the weekend was the gorgeous sunrise we experienced on Sunday morning. Unfortunately, it was preceded by the worst part of the trip: the rain.

On Saturday night, we had to move to a different campsite that was a bit further from the park. After having a big Maine lobster dinner on Saturday, as we were heading back to the campsite, we heard the pitter patter of rain on the roof of the car. uh-oh. When we got back to our campsite, the rain was still only an infrequent drizzle, so we set up the tent quickly, making sure to secure the rain tarp over the top.

Unfortunately, my brother and I put the rain cover on upside down…which you think wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but the cover had a couple of vent holes in it that were facing the wrong way, so the drips and drops of rain made their way into the tent all night. And since the tarp was already soaked on its exposed side, turning it right-side-up would have just made us more wet. It was a bit of a downer, but I have to admit that falling asleep to the pounding rain above me was a lot fun, and the reward was a clear sky the next morning, perfect weather to watch the sunrise.

I was skeptical about waking up early, especially after I knew our night in the tent would be a damp one. The next morning, however, I woke up on my own at about 5am and went out to use the bathroom. While outside, I looked up and saw the bright, clear stars. Although all I wanted to do was roll back into my sleeping bag and dream of my warm, dry bed at home, I knew I had to go see the sunrise.

Luckily we didn’t have to do any hiking at 5am in the morning…the mountain we were going to (Cadillac Mountain) is accessible by car. Once we got to the top, after we stepped out of the car, Tri and I took walked about 10 feet and started to shake from the cold. Fall weather definitely is settling in around here, especially in the Northern state of Maine. We hurriedly turned around and went back to the car which had our clothing in it. We each wore every shirt, hat, and piece of long underwear that we had brought and then waddled out, in our thick layers, to brave the cold and witness one of the most graceful sunrises I’ve ever seen…

This shot was taken about 45 minutes before the sun rose

This one was taken shortly before the sunrise

And here you can see the first piece of the glowing sun

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Up with the Morning Sun

Tri and I come from families of early risers. Both of our dads get up by 5 or 6 and have usually done a ton of things by the time Tri or I groggily saunter out of our rooms. My mom’s side of the family isn’t that different. Whenever I’m at a family gathering, if I get up by 7:30, the house is already bustling with activity. People have eaten, are dressed, and are ready to go out for the day.

I used to be an early riser too.

For most of middle school and high school I had to be up by at least 6:30 to get ready for school, but in high school, it wasn’t uncommon for me to be up by 5 or 5:30am. I loved the quiet and peace of the morning, and it was an ideal time to do homework. Then college hit. In the beginning I thought that I’d keep it up. When I told a professor about my plans, she laughed at me! (in a kind-hearted way), and I soon realized she was right. Late nights took precedence over early mornings, and I could no longer hope to be up by 5:30am.

When I studied abroad, I was able to get back into the habit of getting up early and remembered how much I love it. Getting up early has always been easier for me in Nepal because it’s so bright in the mornings there. There’s also somewhat of a morning culture, especially in rural areas, that makes getting up a bit easier. I miss waking up to a rooster’s crow or the sound of people calling to each other across the courtyard. If you’re really tired in the mornings, the rooster crow does get old, but for the most part, it’s not a bad way to wake up. And after you do, you get to look forward to a steaming cup of Nepali chiya (tea) and biscuits.

In high school I was waking up at 5 O’clock with the help of an alarm, but while living in a Nepali village, I was up on my own by 5:30am. While trekking, as well, I remember waking up early on my own. One morning while camping, I woke up right before the sunrise. After I got up, I walked down to the bank of the thunderous river we had slept next to the night before and sat down to write in my journal and enjoy this beautiful, rocky spot.

I’ve thought about getting up that early again and wondered if I could hack it without an alarm clock, but I’m worried it wouldn’t happen in the US. In the village, I was going to bed by 7pm. We did have electricity at night, but I had nothing to do. My host family was in bed by that time, so I had no one to talk to, and there were no computers, phones, or internet either. I did have some reading material, but there were only so many times I could read the one book I had brought or go over my class notes from the day, so 7pm became my default bedtime.

In the US, going to bed at 7pm would be crazy and impossible for me, so getting up on my own at 5:30am is not very likely to happen. However, I am trying to get up earlier with the help of an alarm clock.

Tri left early Tuesday morning for a business trip and was away until Wednesday, so I was on my own Tuesday night. He’s not very enthusiastic about getting up early, so I decided to get up with the morning sun on the day he was away. I have to get up at 6:30 anyway to get ready for work in the morning, but I realized it’s been way too long since I’ve seen the sunrise, so I set my alarm for 6. You can see the view from our apartment is not a very good one! But at least I got to see a bit of the morning sun as it peaked above the buildings 🙂

Any other early risers or trying-to-be early risers out there? What are you tips for getting yourself to wake up early?