Tangled in a muddle of bed sheets, you jolt awake to the unwelcome sound of an alarm blaring from your phone, bouncing into the silence. Who set that? Rubbing your eyes, you stare at the ceiling for a moment, listening to the comfortable drip of the coffee maker. You peak through the blinds and flares of streetlamp squeeze through, casting rectangles of soft orange along your wall. In the corner, your backpack stands as alert as a soldier on the battlefield and you remember,

Stumbling to the kitchen, you fill your to-go mug with the steaming bitter liquid and start your morning. All else is quiet. Even the birds are still huddled in their nests. You roll on your layers, double check your pack and grab a store-bought burrito from the fridge, shoving it into the microwave.

Ding! Breakfast is ready and you’re out the door, driving fast in the dark to pick up your friend. You’ve still got a few hours until daylight and you’re gunning to be on a mountaintop, sipping lukewarm coffee by sunrise.

What seems like a lofty aspiration to some, is a habit for the early riser. On days like this, snooze isn’t an option, nor a desire. The early morning trances link to something meditative, and you’ve come to revere these with delight. Rising early in a surreal dream, transporting yourself through the morning haze to an unearthly place and time. But if you’re more apt to just roll over and knock your alarm into submission, here are 8 reasons to rethink your strategy.

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Catch More Sunrises

A prism of orange and purple splays across the morning sky as the sun crawls across the ridge line, dragging ribbons of color in her wake. It’s not called the Golden Hour for nothing.

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Avoid Traffic

Starting early allows plenty of time to beat the lollygaggers, stacking up Subarus and Jeeps on two-lane foothill roads until your relaxing mountain drive becomes a hard stop in parking-lot traffic.

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Photographic Light

Many photographers understand the day-to-day struggle for the perfect light. Those morning light-seekers can rejoice in the early morning light, arguably the best for photography.

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Beat the Heat

During the summer months, when temperatures can be uncomfortably hot or humid, an early jump allows you to circumvent the stark afternoon heat. This is especially great if you plan on climbing to high altitudes, where the sun is less forgiving.

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See Wildlife

One of the best times to see wildlife is in the early morning hours, when there are less people around to scare them back into the brush. Keep an eye out for curious morning creatures and have your camera ready!

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Race the Weather

If you’ve ever been caught in a Rocky Mountain thunderstorm, you know that a hiker’s worse nightmare is lightning. Lives are claimed every year by thunderstorms rolling quickly and nefariously into the mountains during midafternoons. Your best bet for avoiding dangerous conditions is to begin early!

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Safety First

You’re prepared, you’ve got all the right gear and you know the way, but—let’s face it—things happen. People trip and fall, hikers mosey off the trail into unmarked territory, bad weather seemingly appears from nowhere. By leaving early and giving yourself a larger margin for error, you have more time when these things happen to arrive safely back at the car.

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Happier Hour

Starting earlier means ending earlier, which means you can make it to the front end of happy hour and beat the crowds at your favorite mountain brewery ! Or having more time to enjoy that 6 pack at the top of the climb. It’s a win-win!

Rise and shine, you adventurous souls!

 

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