I somehow convinced two of my friends to drive from Los Angeles to Tahoe Friday night to chase the sunrise Saturday morning with me.
We worked all day, packed, rented a car and knew that we would not be getting any sleep. Car full of fruit, music ready and enough cold brew to serve a mini army we set out to meet 75 strangers at 3:30 a.m. in Tahoe for a night we will never forget.
Crazy you say?
Yes, we are and this is what we learned from a group of Canadians who are making it count and living life the right way.
The name Chasing Sunrise comes from a group of off the wall, crazy, live life to the fullest Canadians who somehow get hundreds of people to hike up mountains in the wee hours of the morning to watch the sunrise on top of Mount Seymour.
Of course it only seemed natural for them to drive 1,000 miles to chase the sunrise in California. I found them on Instagram, fanned out on their epic photos, adventures and meaning behind what they do. I signed up for the newsletter on the off chance that they would come to California someday. I instantly jumped at the chance to experience the chase when they did.
Eight plus hours later we arrived in Tahoe, found the meeting place and checked in. Each of us had no clue what to expect but our adrenaline was keeping us awake and we watched person after person arrive with headlamps, camel packs and faces gleaming from ear to ear with excitement. Now I will not lie to you, we were dead tired and very nervous! This was our first hike up a mountain at night with a 9,000 foot elevation and only 90 minutes to summit before sunrise! We must be crazy.
The adrenaline must’ve kept us going because as soon as everyone had a little pow wow on safety, signed some waivers (yes, waivers) and we were appointed our pack leaders, we were off! Headlamps by the dozens, dust clouds tumbling from the mass amount of people and chatter from excited new friends as we all set off up a mountain with a force comparable to a bull run. My two friends and I could not stop ourselves from laughing the whole way up, there were many moments where one or two of us stopped, said we would die and only continued due to pep talks—purely because of not knowing where we were and not wanting to be left behind we trudged up the mountain.
There was this amazing comradery as we hiked, between us and 75+ strangers we all cheered each other on, shared food, water and took rest stops together. How often in life do you put yourself in an unknown situation, a situation where you are almost forced to rely on the support from other people in order to sustain a constant forward movement towards a common goal/experience.
The feeling of success and gratitude as we reached the summit, sun barely rising, shadows of people crowding on top of large rocky peaks and cheering will forever be unmatched in my book. Every person had this look of complete astonishment as they looked over the cliff and realized what they had just accomplished.
Not because we all had not seen a sunrise before or been on hikes with strangers, but because we all chose to give up sleep, wake up hours before work and even go to work after, if we had to. We all chose to get out of our comfort zones, to get out of our day-to-day sleep, work, repeat cycle. I looked around and realized that each person there wanted more in life. Each person knew that, as it says in Chasing Sunrise: “We were born to do more than pay bills and die.”
I finally understood what Chasing Sunrise’s motto meant: “ We are given the choice to make: we can either stay in bed waiting for life to come to us or we can get up and get after it, chasing what we want.” How valuable of a reminder to live life, which brings me to the purpose of why I chose to share this with you. Not because of a sunrise but because of the reminders it gave me.
We as humans spend so much of our time doing things that we don’t want to do, we give up our lives to serve others instead of ourselves. We dread our alarms in the mornings, we plan our whole lives around work and wait for things to magically change or appear to give us insight. The largest gray area in life is living! Making the hard choices to follow your dreams, what makes you come alive, will always have a risk factor associated with it. If you are lucky enough to wake up then I hope you choose to live every moment like it could be your last.
The sad reality is this: there is a time limit on life and no one knows when that will be, so please choose to make it count.
Author: Selah Estrada
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Author’s Own