When the alarm sounds at 3:50 a.m. I am a little confused. I slowly become aware that I am in the mountains on summer vacation, but why is the alarm buzzing in the middle of the night? As I gain some sort of consciousness I am aware I can end this buzzing sound and sleep for another 3 or 4 hours, heck I can sleep another 8 hours if I want, it's VACATION!
After about 10 seconds I pretty much know what is going on, and realize I am the one responsible for setting the wake up call. I have about a half hour to drink my coffee, have a snack, and get dressed to get started on what should be about a 15 mile run. I head into the darkness with my hat that lights up (thanks for the present Lynne) leading me through the darkness for the first part of the run. There is no such thing as street lights in the mountain communities and I like it that way. Eventually the lights on my hat are clicked off as light is slowing appearing in the skies.
There is a strange feeling of running along the mountain roads as your eyes adjust from darkness to light that is difficult to describe. I don’t feel lonely at all, even though the most contact is an occasional scared dear that runs off into the woods. It is more a sense of connectedness with darkness, light, and nature. After a littler over an hour, I turn onto a dirt path that leads me up a meandering mountain trail; this takes me to the top of a mountain where a logging road brings more definition to my direction. A while later I am at the top of the mountain overlooking my destination… Pinecrest Lake.
An hour and a half has passed and the sun has still not shown itself, but the view is spectacular and there is enough light to see the peaceful lake as I start my descent.
Thirty more minutes and I will have made it around most of the lake and run into my wife Cindy, and dog Jacpot. They have taken the saner route of driving to the lake first, and then running before the sun is up. When we cross paths, I reverse my direction and jog back around the lake with them. Upon returning to the other side of the lake, Jacpot fetches a stick in the water for a while before we drive back to pick up a newspaper and then return to the cabin.
I don't know when when it happens, but somewhere during these runs there is a sunrise. I guess it is when the sun just begins to peak over the mountain range. But on these mornings, to me the sunrise is not a distinct moment, rather as one special performance over a couple hours. A gift is how I would describe it, and I am the recipient. My consciousness is able to wrap it all up into one big present and take it in. Those first 10 seconds of rising out of bed have long passed, and I am not confused anymore.