Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sunrise at Appalachian Mountains - Clingman's Dome

Robb Sagendorph – Founder of Yankee Magazine and Editor of Old Farmer’s Almanac famously said:

Climb up on some hill at sunrise. Everybody needs perspective once in a while, and you’ll find it there.

I couldn’t agree more. I have witnessed many sunrises, on many hills, at different points in my life, and every time its magnificence and radiance leaves me astounded. I wouldn’t call myself an early bird but if waking up early means to witness a spectacular sunrise I would do just that.

A couple of weeks ago, a friend and I were having a conversation about the lovely fall colors that decorates the entire Smoky Mountains adding richness to the previously glowing forest. As we spoke we arrived at an appealing idea to see the sunrise at Appalachian Mountains, just the thought of watching the sunrise over the colored dogwood, maple, sassafras and evergreen pines was too fascinating to be missed. As always, wanting to do something is not the same as planning for it. We shuttled the idea back and forth, and one evening while talking to M and R – our good friends, we sealed the plan. R and Balaji were not too kicked about getting up at the unearthly hour but they were equally thrilled.

We tried hard and succeeded in pulling S and K to join us, and I am sure they will curse us for contriving such a plan because they have two young kids under ten and it is no joke to get them to wake up that early and get ready. They rock!

The plan was to wake up at 3 in the morning and drive three and half hours to Clingman’s dome at the Appalachian Mountains just in time for the sunrise. Yes we could have gone there the previous evening and camped but that was not exciting enough.

The day finally arrived. M was the designated driver – with his surprisingly good sense for directions and his guts to break every speed limit on the way not minding the many patrol cars we saw on our way plus the half hour break at waffle house for a very early breakfast at 6 am, we reached Clingman’s Dome in record time with all credit to M and some credit to the coffee I made for M =)

The last fifteen minute of the ride was like one of those police car chases that we see on the idiot box, only this time we were chasing and trying to keep up with the dark sky slowly turning purplish orange. We were tailing a car that I probably could have outrun on my feet, M did his best and gave me assurance that we will be there on Clingman’s peak just in time to see the sunrise. He kept his word.

And what I saw in the next ten minutes listening to Iktara song from Wake up Sid in that freezing cold would last in my mind for a long time. The ebony sky was smeared with orange streaks, golden light rising from below the worn mountains, silhouetting the trees, throwing light on the running river, on the clouds that was to my eye-level, the ebon of the sky slowly turning gray.

The sun rose above the mountains spreading light wide and far…the gray gone and a new day born…

After waiting in the darkness to see the sunrise, the blue of the sky, the brown and green of the mountains, the yellow and orange of the leaves, the white of the clouds,the colors of the rainbow, the colors of the birds, the silver of the gleaming water, the brown of my skin, the red of my cheeks, all the colors of the world felt like a large canvas being painted.

Coming back to what Robb Sagendorph said:

Climb up on some hill at sunrise. Everybody needs perspective once in a while, and you’ll find it there.

Did I gain any shattering perspective? No. But I realized something very simple, that there is so much beauty in this world that we fail to see blaming it on our day to day toil and trouble, but the truth is if we start seeing the beauty in everything around us, we won’t consider the small glitches we have in life as trouble anymore.

Life is what we want it to be: And I intend to keep it beautiful.


  1. Great posting.Keep the good work coming.

  2. Nice photos.
    Good to know you had good time in Atlanta. I currently live there too and Smokies is one of my favourite places for visit during Fall and early spring.
    I have done visited Clingman's dome during sunset and moonrise, however from your post, it feels like Sunrise would be a great idea too.

    Nice work, keep it up.

  3. Thanks Vijay.

    Going back there to witness the spectacular sunrise wouldn't be a bad idea. =)

    Good day.