By Terry Rice

A Shenandoah Sunrise

There isn’t just one story of how I fell in love with the Appalachian Trail (A.T.); there are hundreds of them. I can’t say that I enjoy getting up in the dark but living by the rhythm of daylight was one of the things that captured me while I was on Trail. The simple, repetitive, predictable nature of the sun rising gave me a sense of awareness that I do not experience in the real world. Many of us have seen the sunrise, getting up early, rushing to capture the perfect moment with a picture or with another person. On the A.T., it’s a softer, more intimate encounter, especially when I’m alone. The colors, of course, could be amazing but it was the arrival of the light that made me stop in my tracks. At first, the change is so subtle that you don’t notice – is it brighter out? Maybe. A little. Yes, it’s brighter. But when did that happen? And then, it’s always unexpected – the final moment of the sunrise is not the last subtle increase in lightness, but rather a gentle sort of ‘Pop!’ that brings the daylight fully alive. At the very instant that nighttime seems to hang in the balance, it’s as if nature decides, yes, that’s enough for now. It’s time for the day to start. And for me, too. It was time to hike.