Scarpa North America Blog

The Calm Before The Run – Dawn Patrol

Sep. 25th 2017

I’m woken by the violent buzzing of Nick’s alarm. He has his phone set to the “old phone” ringtone, which in my 4am stupor feels like a minor explosion to my head.

The strident sound is accompanied by his phone vibrating on the plastic lining of my truck bed and an abrupt sit-up from Nick to end the aggression. I comment in a not-so-zen manner about the onslaught, to which Nick replies in his usual matter-of-fact way: “Well, we have to get up.”


We have a long day ahead of us, linking fourtneeners in the Sawatch mountain range. We had planned a 5am start time, departing at first light to avoid having to wear headlamps. This is isn’t much of an alpine start, but our late arrival at the trailhead the previous night yielded much less sleep than desired and has me operating as if it’s much earlier than it is.

I pull out my coffee apparatus, which I had neatly lined up on the front seat of the truck 5 hours earlier. I start hand grinding the beans, a rhythmic circular motion to gently massage the flavor into a quality cup. While I generally dislike the transition from sleep to waking, once up, pre-dawn is my absolute favorite time of day.

This is especially true in the fresh mountain air at 9,000ft, nestled in a stunning valley surrounded by giant mountains.


I take spoonfuls of a chia pudding concoction I pre-prepared, while waiting for the coffee to brew. I feel like it takes about an hour for me to be fully functional, as my brain wakes up in stages. The mechanical side first, with a near sensory numbness, my body just operating on autopilot – getting dressed, eating, resting in the room. Then, everything else starts to slowly compute.

My mind shifts from the blurry, soporific bumble of my headlamp to my greater surroundings and what lies ahead. And, what a place to be! The thin, checkered cloud cover suggests it’s windy up high. Purplish pinks already line the sky as we gather our final bits and pieces before heading out. The near 5,000 foot climb up to Mt. Missouri looms ahead and the excitement for a spectacular day in the hills is starting to build. It’s time to go for a run.

trail marker

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