Is a 2:30am Sunrise Adventure Worth It?

Remember when pulling an all-nighter as a kid was cool? Turns out it’s not as fantastic in adult life… unless all of your friends are in the same sleepy boat and the adventure includes standing on top of a mountain to witness the sunrise. At least for me, if a mountain is involved, count me in.

It was 2:30am on a Wednesday and my alarm played Another Man’s Shoes by The Movement. I rolled my eyes and got a text from Aly, “Alright kiddos, who’s up, we doin this???”. My response, “yaaaaaap”.

After driving in blackness through the woods, we all made it to Brad’s house. Somehow this kid always has the energy of a bunny rabbit, even at 3am. He’s always down to drive, thank goodness. We hopped in his car and traveled to Mt. Kearsarge. Cierra had SZA bumpin through the speakers. Also note - Dunkins was not open yet so you can assume we didn’t think this trip through and spontaneously planned this last night, a.k.a 3 ½ hours ago, at 11:30pm. What’s new?

It took an hour to drive to Rollins State Park, situated in Warner, New Hampshire. The plan to drive the 3.5 mile auto road to the top of Kearsarge to catch the sunrise at 5:25am was a blow. The wooden gate was locked. Apparently the park opens at 9am, but whatever. Casey said he saw a person in the state park booth peek out of the curtains. Aly and I were hyped, for maybe they could open the gate and let us up the mountain early. But nah, he lied. “It's not lying, it’s a prank” - Casey. There was no such person in the booth. *major eye roll*

Surprisingly, we had service in the middle of nowhere and Googled an alternative route to a different view point. 30 minutes later we approached the gate to Winslow State Park around 5am in Wilmot, New Hampshire. The gate was wide open and we followed through. After a few hairpin turns and steep climbs, we parked atop the state park and took a trail that lead to an open field. We had an okay view of the mountains through some heavy tree lines and bushes, so we thought. We waited in the dark, cracking jokes and doing dumb stuff until we caught the first glimpse of sunlight for the day.

A watercolor-like sky rose from the hazy fog that slept on the bases of distant mountains and hilltops. Fog floated on fields across the way, and could easily trick the eye into thinking there were lakes hidden between valleys. Sunlight lit up the mountains and our not so great view became spectacular. The waning crescent moon hung to the right of the landscape, but soon faded. Hues of deep purple, burnt orange, and transparent yellow lifted into a sky blue. From then on, the morning got brighter... obviously.

We skedaddled out of there as soon as the mosquitoes and black flies were too much to bear. We planned our next trip back to Mount Kearsarge on our ride home. In agreement, we decided hiking up one night and camping at the top would make more sense to see the sunrise and snag the best views. Then again, we rarely repeat adventures and waking up at 2:30am was enough for now.

Photos By: Brad Geurtin

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