Pete and I have been talking for quite a while about trying out the concept of a sub 24-hour overnight. Now, we spend most of our time trying to figure out ways that we can spend well over 24 hours adventuring… how about a few days – no, a week – how about 2!? But, sometimes we have to go to work.
Inspired by Alistair Humphreys’ call to the microadventure, we have had designs on doing this all summer. In fact, there were a few instances where we were packed up and ready to go after work, but late meetings, early mornings, and life in general seemed to keep getting in the way. So, we pushed this off, letting the long summer days full of light come to a close. And as the mild fall nights have shifted to extra hours of darkness that are crisp and biting, we embarked on our first microadventure.
The day before, when I had asked if he could be in around 9 instead of his regular 7:30 or 8am, he replied, “I can make it work – this is important.” I don’t know if he was just goofing around, putting an ironic amount of weight on a 12 hour outing, or if he really meant that – probably some combination of the two – but that really resonated with me: this is important.
Prioritizing being outside, balancing the love for the outdoors with our desire to work (yes, I actually like to do my job…) is so very important. Not just refilling the part of my heart that gets it fuel from being out of the city on the weekends, but finding meaningful ways to engage with this part of my soul throughout the week really truly matters to my wellbeing and happiness.
So, off we went… With the weather threatening rain, we packed up the car in the morning and, after a long day, I picked him up from work just after 5pm. It was already dark so there was no real rush to get anywhere: just to get outside. We drove for about 45 minutes to get to the trailhead and started the 4.2 mile, 4000ft climb.
There’s something particularly focused about headlamp hiking. You only have what your light can reach to give you perspective. You have sounds and your partner as well, but other than that, it’s almost meditative. Gaining the windy ridge and getting a striking view of the shadowy hut under the light of the moon was heartening – even though it looked like it was miles away.
The lookout came quicker than we expected and was shuttered for the winter against the wind that was howling on top of the mountain. We looked for a protected spot nearby to set up camp but opted to return down just a couple hundred feet in order to get some reprieve from the clear but cold weather. We found the perfect spot and hunkered down for the night under the shadows of the Stuart Range in the distance with a blanket of stars completely enveloping us.
By 5:45 the next morning we were breaking camp and returning to the summit to watch the sunrise. Urgency set in as what looked like the fire of Mordor started it’s performance on the distant horizon. An hour on top of the hill with views stretching what felt like hundreds of miles and a hot cup of tea was a truly remarkable way to start the day. With every second the view changed – each moment unique and beautiful in its own expression of color and texture. We sat and soaked it in… and we took lots and lots of pictures.
We have both had many chances to see epic sunrises in various parts of the world. But this one felt different. The juxtaposition of sitting in this breathtaking spot, alone, with the full knowledge that in a couple of hours we would be sitting at our desks, giving presentations, and attending meetings felt like a special secret that would be ours to keep throughout the coming day.
By mid-afternoon this experience felt like a distant memory. But it instilled something in my day – it gave a sense of truth and purpose. No matter what was going on in the world, no matter what the day brought, this place and our experience of it is out there, on the distant horizon.