#Sunrise surprise – a visitor on Stone Mountain

I thought I had the mountain to myself. I had arrived an hour and a half before sunrise, unsure how long the steep, one mile climb would take me in the dark. I was blasted by the wind at the summit. So much for a warm welcome! The mighty wind was savage and relentless.I squeezed my hands under my armpits when I wasn’t swiping the hair from my eyes. Still, I felt pretty mighty too. Like the Wise Warrior. Like the Goddess of the Mountain.

I surveyed the peak to ascertain the best view of the coming sun. I hugged myself from under my armpits and scrunched my shoulders round against the wind. Why didn’t I bring a hat, for goodness sakes?! Why didn’t I tie my hair back? I longed for the gloves laying next to empty coffee mug in my console. “You got in a hurry again, Sonya.” I scolded myself… but gently, as I am a recovering perfectionist.

Then I heard a voice, and I saw a shadow figure ambling toward me. It was a woman. A black hoodie obscured her head, but I heard the female of her voice. She was trembling as she reached me, holding two flashlights out in front of her. Neither was capable of lighting her way. She had been there all night.

Kim had hiked up alone the evening before to enjoy the sunset. “It was so beautiful,” she tells me. She was lured into that beauty, and it was dark before she realized it. She stood up for the hike down, but she could go no further. She had carried two flashlights, but neither had the juice for the precarious trip back down the mountain. So she huddled beneath a tree to wait out the black sky.

What are the odds of my meeting this woman in this situation? I decided to hop onto her roller coaster. I crossed the distance between us. “Thank God I saw you!” She said. “I don’t know what I would have done.” I would not walk her down right away though. I was not leaving without seeing the sunrise. So we spent the hour together.

She led me around the back of the mountain, to where she had spent the night. The wind was not so brutal here. We sat on a large, flat stone, and she scooched right up next to me. As we sat together waiting for daybreak, she laid her head on my shoulder and curled her small body into mine. “I wish you would have brought a blanket.” I wished for at least that much.

Turns out Kim’s little nook had the best view of the rising sun. The cloud cover was thick along the horizon, so the colors were muted and we had to wait longer for her glory to make her appearance. The longer I sat on that frigid, hard stone the more the cruel cold seeped into my skin. I couldn’t imagine how she must have gotten through the night like this.

The sun rose and presented but few worthy faces for the film, and I struggled to hold the camera steady in my numb, stinging hands. Oh how my body wanted to make a run for it, but I held on. If she could make it all night… I refused to let the physical discomfort keep me from what I came here to do.

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