Thursday, June 09, 2016

Cadillac Mountain Sunrise

While away on our wilderness adventure celebrating our fifth anniversary, Jamie and I decided we would attempt an early morning sojourn to the summit of Cadillac Mountain, and watch as the sun laid out its first golden beams on the United States mainland. Once inside Acadia National Park, there’s at least four separate trails that find their terminus at the summit varying in length with treks varying between two to four miles across uneven terrain and steadily increasing altitude. Earlier in the week, we had hiked a couple of the trails so we knew that the journey would be even more difficult in the darkness and thick fog that often settles on these coastal islands.  It would probably necessitate us arriving at the shortest trail head by 3AM to safely arrive at the summit by 4:55AM sunrise. 

And so, we decided to drive to the summit instead.

We woke up at 4AM and quickly hopped in the car to drive to the summit. We arrived at 4:43AM with a full twelve minutes to wait for the sun to rise. We joined ranks with approximately 20 other early risers and pilgrims seeking a glimpse of the sun’s beams as it touched the summit of this place in the land of the Wabanaki. We met a couple from Charlotte, NC who, similar to us, were making aggressive wilderness hikes daily during their time in Acadia. As we were talking with them, we also took a moment to share a laugh that the fog was so thick that the only clear indicator we had that the sun had risen was the fact that our watches indicated it. We laughed about the fact that we could just as easily have been on the summit of Mount Mitchell in North Carolina with the fog so thick.

As we were laughing, a soft-spoken Korean woman came up to us and shared a photo she took of this small group of early morning pilgrims who had united in pursuit of the first sunbeams to hit our country. It was truly stunning to regard in the midst of the mist and fog. She commented to Jamie and myself that she was so fascinated by the greys that enveloped the surroundings. She had made the drive from Long Island, New York to see her father in Bangor, but made a side trip to the summit of Cadillac Mountain and Acadia.

As we talked with her, she reminded us to enjoy the moments like this that are all covered in a thick fog. She said that everybody is looking for the peeking sun coming over the waters, but there is a beautiful mystery in the ways that shadow and light play in the fog and mist. She even stopped in the middle of her discussion to capture a photo of the drops of mist forming on Jamie’s eyelashes and skin. As we were all beginning to walk back to our cars, she told us that it was probably best for her to say goodbye to us right then because it would likely take her another ten minutes to walk the hundred or so yards to her car—she was so enthralled with the way everything looked in the fog and mist. We ended up discovering she is a professional photographer--it was lovely to see her so enthralled by the beauty she saw in the world around her!

We didn’t see the sun rise on Cadillac Mountain that morning, but we were given eyes to see so much more by our fellow morning pilgrims. We saw a common thread that stirred our souls to be among the first to greet the sun as it touched our continent. We saw common ties and stories that unite us. And, most importantly, we saw the marvel in enjoying the world as it is presented to us, and not always as we desire it to be.  May we continue to carry these messages with us the rest of our days.

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