Solstice Point
June & July, 2007
I’d probably driven right past it a hundred times, my newest find at Mount Magazine. It’s a small east-facing bluff area along Cameron Bluff drive. I finally spotted it this spring, when I stopped at a nearby pulloff. I vowed to return at daybreak around the summer solstice; if the sun was situated far enough north to clear the opposite ridge, the spot would make a great location to view the sunrise.
The biggest downside to my plan was the fact that around the summer solstice the sun rises at its earliest all year. I had to get up at 4 a.m. if I wanted to catch any dawn colors. My first visit was Saturday, June 16. When I arrived, a steady blanket of clouds was racing across the sky from the south. It was pretty dreary. But I hung in there and was rewarded with a short-lived display of pinks on the undersides of the clouds. I left just after that. Half a mile away I drove through an area on Mossback Ridge that had just received some hard rain.
On the heels of a rain storm and with high hopes of catching the mountain shrouded in fog, I made a rare Monday morning trip on June 25th. It hadn’t taken me very long to get ready, and when I arrived it was barely light enough to see the trail leading to the bluff. I laid down on the bare rock and, using my backpack for a head rest, took a catnap. The sunrise was typical for Mount Magazine... low-lying clouds on the horizon initially blocked the sun; then the sun shone brightly through a gap for a short period before rising up above a high layer of clouds. As a consolation there were some really cool sunbeams radiating from holes in the clouds.
I could have slept in on my day off July 4, but instead I’d set the alarm clock so I could get up and walk outside to check the weather. Things looked promising so I made some coffee and quickly got ready for another drive down to Mount Magazine. Though the colors were only so-so, it was great to sit there and experience the sights and sounds and of the surrounding forest waking up. I told myself I should plan on being here next year - same time same place.
I’d been seeing a lot of deer on the side of the road on the drives up the mountain, so I kept my camera sitting in the seat next to me on the drive back. I spotted a couple of does in an opening near the state park entrance.
I returned the following Saturday morning to find the mountain engulfed in a cool, swirling fog. The sun finally rose high enough to break through and bathe everything in a golden light. The bluff area isn’t very big, but there seems to be a lot of places to explore. I went out to a rock outcrop on the southern end, which required me to hop over a gap in the bluff. Coming back I peered down through the gap and to my amazement saw a buzzard on a ledge way below. It was pulling up pieces of moss and dropping them. I stealthily eased away from the gap to outfit my camera with a different lens, then returned to take its picture. A couple of times the buzzard turned its head to look up in my direction, but I don’t think it ever figured out I was up there.