I’m not one of those people who wake up before my alarm with enthusiasm to start the day. I work a regular 8-5 job Monday through Friday so when the weekend comes around I can’t wait to turn it off and just relax into my day. Unfortunately that rarely happens. Instead I set my alarm for 4am (sometimes earlier) and prepare for the grind that will be the next morning.
I will wake up grumbling and grumpy as I put on whatever clothes I laid out the night before. I will make a cup of coffee, the one highlight of the early morning, and pout as I drive to a trailhead I have already mapped out. My mood is only slightly sweetened when I get outside to a quiet natural place and hoist my too-heavy backpack. My mood sours again as I start walking and every muscle tells me to go back to bed.
The first 5 minutes of every morning hike are the same: Why do I do this? Is there any picture worth this (answer: yes, if I get one with a unicorn)? I tell myself there are plenty of people living happy lives who are still in bed right now and I hate them a little for it at this moment. Then it happens…magic. I turn a corner or look up from my internal rant and see something. It can be a grand view catching first light, a deer quietly standing in a meadow, a stream babbling nearby, a small patch of wildflowers, but it makes me stop and smile. The rest of the hike is fun after this point and I can’t wait to do it over and over again.
But 4AM always sucks.