I awake in pure darkness. Most mornings the sunlight valiantly tries to fight its way through the redwood canopy and into our cabin. Today, however the sun is still at rest. The only sound piercing through the night is that of my cabin-mates Ade and Matt snoring. Carefully and quietly I try to gently climb down from the top bunk of my bed. Unfortunately I stumble and almost crash onto the floor. I stay still until I hear the snoring resume, reassured that I have not awoken anyone. I check my watch to ensure I still have time. As the blue light ignites the screen I make out 5:15. Relieved I grab my head lamp and check my pack before strapping it on. I do a quick check to make sure I have my phone and speaker and then head outside.

The light from my head lamp creates a slim line of light that pokes through a bit of the darkness. However the light is fading. I consider trying to change the batteries, but decide I shall have to make do. As I finish my internal debate I see my hiking partner Calley emerge from the darkness. After some small pleasantries and a short yawn from yours truly we embark on our journey.

On this particular morning we have decided to hike up the Eagle Rock trail in an attempt to see the sunrise. The Eagle Rock Trail is separated into two parts. The first is more of a traditional winding uphill switchback hike. This is generally thought to be the way to get up to the top of the trail. The second part, used usually for descent, is more of a leafy service road that one could easily miss. For our purpose of seeing the sunrise we have chosen to take the second part up. The trail is far closer to our cabins and a much faster hike. With only a small window of time to make it up there before sunrise this is ideal.

As we approach the halfway mark I begin to slow. It has been two weeks since our last morning hike and in this time my body has relapsed into a sort of relaxation mood which is not agreeing with the hike. Fortunately I have several factors pushing me through my exhaustion. First and foremost is my hiking partner. Every time I see Calley start to slow down to wait for me, I feel my energy kick back in for I do not want to slow her down. Then there is the speaker we have brought along, the classic rock we play pushes me past any shortness of breath or thoughts of doubt. Before I know it we are arriving to the end of the trail and can see Eagle Rock approaching fast.

Our speed increases, slowly at first and then very rapidly. Suddenly we are in a sprint up the road that leads to the rock. Two minutes later we are climbing to the top of the rock as the sun begins to peek its head past the horizon. Once at the top we take our seats on the rock and drink from our water bottles as we watch the beautiful sun begin to illuminate the world below us.

From the rock we see the entire Redwood forest. Thousands of Coastal Redwoods are slowly more and more illuminated, until below us is only green and fog. In the distance we see the ocean shine spectacularly. All the while Fleetwood Mac pours through my speaker. As Stevie Nicks sings about that mystical girl Rhiannon the sun fully emerges and fully irradiates the sky.

Satisfied with our morning we begin our trek back down the mountain. And just like the end of our hike we soon find ourselves bolting down the mountain in a full sprint, ready to face the oncoming workday head on.

Chris Kellison, Americorps member