Posts Tagged ‘mountain’

For as long as I can remember, I had wanted to take a sunrise photo from Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park in Maine.  Finally, I crossed that puppy off my bucket list.

Though only 1,530 feet in elevation, Cadillac Mountain is one of the highest points on the eastern seaboard.  Most people think that this peak is first to see the sun all year long, as I had thought, but we were mistaken.  Even though it’s not the easternmost point in the US, Cadillac’s height does allow it, for roughly half the year, to receive the first rays of sunshine in the continental US.  The other half of the year, from March to October, a slightly taller peak near the Canadian border has that honor.  The tilt of the earth and changing position of the sun throughout the year is what causes this difference.

Regardless, as a photographer, it was still high on my bucket list.  I’d been camping (glamping?) for two weeks about 20 miles from the Park, which resides on Mount Desert Island on the rocky Maine coast, and I longed to see and photograph the sunrise there.  However, another quirk of Maine’s environment nearly foiled that.  Almost every day I was there, it had either been raining or was extremely foggy at daybreak — until a particular Friday morning during our August stay.

I had been checking forecasts twice or three times a day since I had been there and it finally appeared that Thursday would be clear.  I went to bed early so I could get up at 4am to set out for Cadillac and was awakened at about 12:30am by a severe thunderstorm, one that had not been in the forecast.  I decided to give it one more day and fortunately, the weather stayed clear that night.  At 4:00 Friday morning it was as dark as midnight but I packed a brunch and headed out.

When I arrived at the park a little more than an hour before sunrise, it was quite foggy but it was starting to lift.  However about a half-mile from the parking lot, cars were parked on both sides of the road.  This didn’t bode well and, sure enough, I had to drive through the jam-packed parking lot and back down the road to the end of the parking line.  There must have been 500 vehicles parked in and around the mountain peak’s visitor center.  

By the time I got my gear and began the hike, time was starting to worry me.  I eventually made it to the viewing area and there were hundreds of people on the ridge, many with tripods set up, some with their smartphones out, several laying on sleeping bags on the bedrock.  

I hiked through the crowd carrying a camera backpack and my own tripod, stepping down several levels of rock shelves, and I was able to get to a large stone block with no other photographers in front of me.  I set up just as the sun poked out of the fog.  If you have never taken sunrise or sunset pictures, it’s difficult to understand the excitement of the time limit you’re given.  The sun is moving with or without your readiness or the equipment’s cooperation.

I mounted my camera with the 55mm lens on the tripod and held the other, which sported my 500mm telephoto lens, in my hand.  I alternated snapping shots between the two and kept it up for about 30 minutes.  I remembered to take a couple of photos with my smartphone and posted them nearly live on Facebook so that friends, family and followers could enjoy the sight right away.

By the time I got back to my truck, 90% of the vehicles were already gone.  Satisfied, and with my bucket list reduced, I climbed back in and took advantage of the blue sky to explore more of the Maine coastline.  Blue is usually much prettier than gray.

One of the exciting aspects of our full-time RV’ing adventure is that these bucket list opportunities have availed themselves with some regularity.  In a sticks-and-bricks home, it’s just too difficult (and expensive) to take the time to do it all. 

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