Earlier this week, I put out a call on facebook for a 3AM start on a hike into Tuckerman Ravine…Why 3AM? Well, the ravine is one of the most popular places to be in New Hampshire on an April weekend, and I value solitude on my photography adventures. Camping was out of the question, as there would be hundreds of others at the shelter, so hiking through the night was the only way to get the sunrise shot I needed. Fortunately, a few others had the same ideals.
Hiking at night offers many benefits. The air is cooler, the snow is firmer, and snowshoes are rarely necessary. And a special consideration for this specific location this past weekend, with a forecast of a pleasant bluebird during the height of the spring skiing season…there was no issue with parking!
We were a group of four, two with great experience hiking at night, two first timers, both to night hiking, and to Tuckerman Ravine. All were photographers, hoping to capture an iconic snowscape at it’s peak, right before the first busy weekend. The trail was ideal for the uninitiated…it’s wide, and essentially groomed, and we made great time. At Hojos, we spread out, each finding our own vision of the morning, found what we came for, and witnesses a glorious light show in a special place. It was our own…solitude in a place few find it.
The solitude allows you time to process what you are privileged to observe. The sun rises North of the Carters this time of year, illuminating only half the bowl at first light. The other half is is cast in a great, charismatic shadow from the Lion Head on the northern rim of the glacial cirque. The shadow begins long, and recedes into the increasing brightness of the day. Color changes rapidly as well, from pink to orange to white. Cool blue tones bring color to the shadows.
By 8AM, we had captured what we had come for…but for many the experience was about to begin. On the way out, we met about 1500 strange glances from skiers, climbers and hikers going the other way. Some asked our motives…and we joked that the snow was gone, or that we were off to sell our parking spots. A few likely understood that we were just there, hiking our own hike…just like them.