Pre-Dawn Adventure

Before It Awakes
Before It Awakes, original photography by Joe Ercoli.
Phew! Ok, I may still be in recovery mode… Somehow on Monday night, I got a wild hair up my butt around midnight and decided that I wanted to shoot the sunrise over the Golden Gate. After checking to see what time sunrise would be, I figured I only had time for about four hours of sleep. Batteries charged? Check. Memory card in the camera? Check. Flashlight? Check. With my bag checked and by the door, I was off to bed…

The alarm on my iPhone went off and I thought to myself,”Are you really doing this?” The thud as my feet hit the floor was a resounding yes as I realized that I must have hit snooze once or twice and I was running out of time. I jumped in the ‘Stang and off I went at about 4:30AM barreling up Hwy 280 toward San Francisco. As I made the transition from 280 to 19th Ave, I started getting pissed at myself for hitting snooze: The dark of night was just starting to change to that slightly cool blue in the eastern sky but the sun was still below the horizon. If I hurried, I still had time.

Fighting the Fog
Fighting the Fog
I made it across the city and then shot across the Golden Gate to the Marin Headlands. And by “shot across” I totally mean at the 45mph speed limit imposed on the bridge. No really, I swear officer! Jumping off the freeway I turned on Conzelman Rd snaking its way up the hill overlooking the bridge and made a dash to the top right up to… to… CRAP! A locked gate. I had forgotten that the road was closed to auto traffic after sunset beyond a certain point. This is the same gate that Tom and I had hiked past late one night after asking a ranger if it was cool.

With odds stacking against me, the adventure continued as I quickly parked the car and started hoofin’ it up the hill. It was about a half mile hike up this hill and, after now checking in with Google Earth, a rise of about 200 feet. That may not sound like much but this guy wasn’t feeling like a spring chicken after hauling all of my camera gear plus a tripod up the road while trying to beat the sun from peeking out over the edge of the earth!

Early Morning at the Gate
Early Morning at the Gate
Well, I beat the sun, but the fog wasn’t going to let me get what I wanted. I clicked off a few shots and as soon as the sun got up there just a bit, I was enveloped in a blanket of fog. Had it been really low, right above the water then I would have loved it, but it was game over and I walked back down to the car. I figured I’d check out Battery Spencer just down the hill and see what it looked like during the day since last time I was there it was 3AM. As it started to warm up the fog was gone almost as quickly as it came and I squeezed off a few early morning shots of the bridge.

I’ll be making the trip out there again soon, but maybe this time I’ll plan ahead more and check the weather, too. Or maybe I won’t, ‘cause sometimes I just take it as it comes and enjoy the adventure. That’s just how I roll. 🙂

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