Does getting up early have its rewards? You bet! Although I’ve undoubtedly missed out on some of “those moments” in life by not being a night owl, being an early riser has always seemed to come naturally to me. No question about it, sunsets are terrific. However, that golden period of time that encapsulates a sunrise just can’t be beat. Most birds and animals are just coming out for the day and there’s a good chance you’ll also spot some of those nocturnal critters as they head in for good day’s sleep. But the most spectacular event to me is the awakening of the landscape. Plants sparkle with dew, leaves are refreshed and grasses are standing tall as they await a day of sunshine, flowers are beginning to burst open and the light and shadows are just amazing.
For me it seems like the full beauty of dawn is most exemplified in an arid or semi-arid region such as in the Badlands of South Dakota. After camping out in the primitive Sage Creek campground of Badlands National Park this past September, we packed up, said good-bye to the bison that greeted us in the pre-dawn light and headed out just before sunrise. Winding over the dusty washboards of the gravel road leading back to the main park area, we were indeed blessed with an endless display of morning beauty. Long shadows, refreshed shades of green and the contours of time once again left us in awe of creation. Yes, there were new sites around every curve and each fresh display seemed to surpass those we’d already stopped and witnessed.
While colors may become bleached out later on in the day, morning colors can come alive in the Badlands. We were amazed at how much more vivid the morning colors along Sage Creek were as clay hills and washouts just seemed to pop amongst the shadows cast by the rising sun.
These three snapshots are just a sampling of what we were gifted with on one magical morning along Sage Creek. But as you can see, getting up early does have it’s rewards and they are memories to fill a life time. We’d drive and stop, hike around and then just sit down and soak in the beauty. And then we’d do it again. While it’s entirely up to you what time you roll out in the morning, remember, life is short. Enjoy what adventures are awaiting you.