Chasing the Sunrise: Grand Teton National Park

I began my week out west with a sunrise. I ended it with a sunset. Befitting imagery to be sure, but imagery that upon further reflection has created a sense of longing, a heartache for something more. These photos were taken on the road heading from Jackson Hole, Wyoming toward Grand Teton National Park. Whenever I'm visiting someplace scenic, someplace expansive, someplace where the ocean meets the sky, where the mountains carve out the horizon, I am compelled to watch the sunrise, even if just once. It takes some planning [I am a morning person, but I wouldn't call myself an early riser by any means], and almost certainly a mad dash out the door [since surely I'll snooze that pre 5am alarm one too many times], but once I set out on the road and begin to spot those first warm brush strokes, the groggy fog over my head lifts. I'm wide-eyed and treated to the most perfect ephemeral show.

As we drove in the darkness through Jackson Hole's empty town center, the blinking street lights may as well have been runway lights, only these were guiding me toward the still, misty horizon. As predicted, I was rushed. I had a rapidly diminishing window to reach my target: the barns on Mormon Row. I knew that at just the right time, the sun would throw the most incredible alpenglow over the Grand Tetons, and the view of this impressive mountain range was postcard perfect from my carefully planned spot.  I was determined to make it out there in time. What I hadn't planned for was the awe inspiring drive to my destination.  As we drove, the sky progressed from a muted blue-gray to a capricious kaleidoscope of orange and ochre and peach and coral and pink and violet, revealing new colors at every turn.

These photos weren't composed or planned. The view I was aimed toward was still further in the distance. We simply stuck the camera out the window while en route, as I openly gasped at the expansive sky before me, all the while checking there were no rogue animals making their way across the road. A fast shutter speed and half decent aim provided us with photos that bring a palpable warmth to my heart and a lasting memory of my first morning out west. I didn't get to stop and soak in this twilight hour between dusk and sunrise [don't worry, I had plenty of time to take it all in once I made it to Mormon Row, but more on that another time!].

So often I rush through life with my eyes aimed toward a fixed point on the horizon.  I'm so appreciative of these photos, since for me they capture the beauty found along the way, the beauty found in the wandering.  I only managed one drive towards the sunrise during this trip [you try getting yourself out of bed before dawn when you're in a tent that's a cool 40 degrees fahrenheit!]. It was my only sunrise, so it carries more weight and feels all the more significant. 

This singular twilight drive reminds me the sunrise is both infinite and finite. The sun works its way over the horizon each day, and it's never the same. The cloud configurations change, the painted colors change, the vantage point changes. It's a dynamic, boundless, breathtaking display.  There are only so many sunrises in my lifetime.  I don't wake up each day to chase it. But I can try. I may fail [in fact, I'm guaranteed to fail more often than not...sunrise is early!]. But maybe it's somewhere in the trying where I'll discover something more.