By: Kaitlyn Gallagher

Mornings are not my time. Every morning, I set at least five alarms and snooze them all. I am a miserable person in the mornings; I am grumpy and will say some things I don’t actually mean if someone crosses me the wrong way. I have definitely slept in past 2pm, and I consider any time before 10am early. In summary: I hate mornings.

I had just begun my semester abroad in Cape Town, South Africa when my new housemates suggested we take a sunrise hike on a mountain called Lions Head. Honestly if I had known my housemates better I would have laughed in their faces, but I was trying to be adventurous and make new friends so I agreed. When my alarm went off at 4am, I wished that everyone else in my house had forgotten about the ambitious plans. I wanted nothing more than go back to sleep. Against my wishes, my housemates were up and ready to take on the hike.

When we got the bottom of the trail, it was still pitch black. I thought of all the lucky people in the city around me who had more hours of sleep ahead of them. My friend told me that there were people who ran up the mountain every morning, and I assumed that those people were absolutely crazy. I personally clung to the side of the mountain and cursed myself for leaving my bed. As we approached the top of the mountain it was a scramble, and I was passed by more experienced people who were used to racing the sun. The whole way up the approximately hour long trek I didn’t get the whole point of the hike. Why did I have to wake up so early? Why couldn’t we have done this just a few hours later? Then we got to the top and I got my answers.

The sun slowly crept over the horizon, stretching through the valleys and into empty streets. It was beautiful. Watching the sunrise was a truly amazing experience which cannot be accurately described in words. My head was clear, and I was able to take a deep breath for what seemed like the first time in a long time. There were all sorts of people at the top of the mountain, old groups of friends, couples, and those crazy people who ran up the mountain. I felt bad for the people in their beds who were sleeping through such a precious life moment. I realized those people who ran up the mountain were probably not crazy, because starting the day off on the top of a mountain watching the sunrise is arguably the best way one can start a day. Realistically, I will not be a person who runs up a mountain every morning, because I still cherish my sleep. However, when the opportunity arises to take a sunrise hike I gladly set my alarm.

So from the bottom of my heart, set an alarm, grab some friends and get out there. I don’t remember the days that I slept the morning away, but I remember every second of that first sunrise hike. It’s worth it.