It Pays to Get up Early

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been feeling pretty couped up lately. You know, that feeling when you just have to get out? Of course, the pandemic makes that especially difficult, but I’m very fortunate in the fact that I live near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. To be sure, the Smokies can be very crowded as I’ve described before, but if you play your cards right, you can safely stay away from others, get outside, and enjoy some intense beauty all at the same time. The most important card you can play to maintain distance from others is to get there early.

Most photographers know that it usually pays to get up early. Sometimes it is even better. Sometimes getting up early is just pure gold. Yesterday was such a time. After several hours of insomnia, I got out of bed at 4:15 am, dressed quickly, made a double cappuccino, and headed to the Cades Cove area of the Smokies. Weatherwise, the conditions were supposed to be cold and foggy, which makes ideal conditions for the heavy type of frost known as hoar frost. Hoar frost can be magical, but little did I know what awaited as my foggy brain navigated the one and a half hour drive to the Cove.

Upon arrival, I found that I was the first in line at the entrance gate. This is excellent since I was assured of being the first inside the Cove when the ranger opened the gate an hour and a half later at 8:00 am. Except in this case, the gate was already open! Yes! I quickly realized that this was a gift, a chance to enter the Cove well before sunrise. My buddy Bill soon pulled in behind me and together we decided to enter the Cove and beg forgiveness if necessary. For the next hour and a half, we had the Cove to ourselves. Better yet, we found ribbons of fog lacing the valley, heavy hoar frost everywhere we looked, and high, thin clouds gracing the sky. It was a perfect moment for us. Like I said, it pays to get up early!

Here are some images from the morning. Enjoy!


  1. Early morning and late afternoons ====golden hours of light. I think the more North or the more South you are, the more pronounced those changes are. I am on the Gulf Coast so while others here are excitedly anticipating now by the end of the week, I prefer to enjoy it by looking at great photos while in my ‘jammies’ and with a cup of hot coffee.

    Liked by 1 person

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