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Rise and Shine! Why You Should Plan a Sunrise Hike this Summer.

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My alarm goes off and I struggle to reach my phone to turn it off. I look at the time and it reads 4:30 a.m. I’m torn, wanting to stay warm in the dark, wanting to go. There’s nothing like a sunrise hike, and I’ve set myself up for a beauty today. But I’m still groggy. No. That won’t do. I grab my backpack, unzip my tent, and can see a few headlamps spotlighting in the early dawn light.Photo May 19 6 14 03 AM

All images: Courtnee Sinhlapasai
The night before, my friends and I agreed to meet up at a common area, the fire ring, so we could follow each other to the trailhead. True to their word, they’re there. We make it to the trailhead as the ink-blue sky submits to the sun’s yellow and orange. We make our way through the trail to the final spot where we find the best seat for viewing the sunrise, and we get out our breakfast supplies. The rosy light settles onto the mountains and I am completely at peace, watching the alpenglow over the Sierras.Photo May 19 5 53 41 AM

For anyone reading this who is a morning person: I know you get this. For the rest of you—and you know who you are….if we knew one another, you’d call me nuts for considering a sunrise hike fun—here’s why you should wake up early and hit the trail:

1. Solitude. You will most likely be one of few people on the trail, so you’ll get to snag some of the best spots to view the sunrise.

2. An active start to the day. You’re starting off your day with a workout, so you’ll feel energized and ready to conquer the rest of your day.

3. Time to cross other things off your to-do list. By the time you leave your sunrise hike; you’ll have the rest of the day to do whatever you need to do.

4. Happiness. It will benefit your mental health. Once you see the light shine above the horizon, you’ll feel like you can do anything. You’ll leave feeling calm, rejuvenated, and will regain a sense of purpose in life. All the stress and chaos of life just washes away.Photo May 19 5 52 21 AM

Photo May 19 5 44 21 AM

How to plan a sunrise hike? Here are a few considerations.

1. Location. If you are hiking to the top of a summit or just taking a stroll, pick an area where there will be a clear view with no objects in the way.

2. Logistics. You’ll most likely be walking in the dark, so familiarize yourself with the route. Also bring a headlamp. Plan to get to your destination for viewing the sunrise at least 30 minutes beforehand, so you can see the colors come in and change.

3. Company. Try to plan on going with another person, or in a group. If not, make sure you leave a note with your hiking plans or let someone know where you will be going, and when they should expect to hear from you.

4. Weather. Weather can dramatically change overnight as well as during the day, so be sure to pack the appropriate gear like a raincoat, extra layers, or gloves for your adventure.

5. Gear. Headlamp (or any kind of light), and layers are a must. As always, carry enough water, food, a first aid kit, and navigational tools along with your clothes and light source. 

Sunrises help remind you that each day brings new beginnings and it’s never too late to try something new. 

Courtnee is an elementary school teacher that is often seen out adventuring when not in the classroom. She enjoys getting people together in the outdoors, exploring the Eastern Sierras with her rescue dog, and doing what makes her soul happy.

Check her out on Instagram on

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