A misty Maine morning

PERSONAL JOURNEYS

MY BEST SHOTDuring a six-day fall...

May 31, 1998|By Charles Elms, Ellicott City | Charles Elms, Ellicott City,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

A misty Maine morning; MY BEST SHOT

During a six-day fall canoe trip down the Allagash Wilderness Waterway in northern Maine, I took this picture between Croque Brook and Allagash Falls shortly after sunrise. The three of us started early to avoid afternoon winds and were rewarded with a gently flowing river, fog and a mist rising from the water. As the river merged with the horizon, a quietness and inner peace descended, reminding me once again why I seek this type of solitude.

Traveling should involve all of the senses, and sometimes worrying about snapping photographs can take away from the complete absorption of an experience. I realized this while in India with three friends.

We were in Darjeeling, a fairy-tale town high in the foothills of the Himalayas, and we decided to brave the cold at 4 in the morning to see the sunrise from Tiger Hill, one of the highest points in the area. It was pitch black out, the only light coming from the headlights of Jeeps that people were piling into. Crammed in the back of a Jeep with four other people, we formed part of a caravan of about 25 vehicles leaving Darjeeling and grinding up Tiger Hill. Just as the smell of exhaust and the twisting were making me nauseous, we jerked to a halt and found ourselves in the midst of a bustling crowd of people. At a glance, it seemed that we four were the only Westerners among the hundreds of people.

By now it was about 5 in the morning, and we jostled our way through to get a good spot. We didn't really know what we were looking for, but we found a place to stand that we hoped would provide us with an unimpeded view. We got some delicious Indian milk tea to warm our chilled bones. Several hundred people stood around waiting for something to happen; the morning darkness was fading and we were able to make out the hills in the distance.

Suddenly, as if on cue, people started hooting and hollering. A sliver of sun appeared, a shining crescent directly in front of us. A shiver ran through my body as the sounds of the crowd grew more frenzied, and we watched the world below us blossom in the hazy light. The sunrise would have been enough, but it only got better.

One friend and I jumped down from the ledge we were on so that we were standing on top of an outhouse. The wild yells coming from all sides were at a fever pitch, and finally I looked to my left and saw what I was supposed to be seeing - the peaks of the highest mountains in the world (Everest and the Annapurnas) illuminated by the early morning sunlight, glowing an almost unearthly pink. I grabbed my friend's arm and pointed, speechless, at the awesome spectacle that lay before us. The mountains were in Nepal, a whole country away, but our view was remarkably clear.

I held up my camera to immortalize the moment, only to find that my batteries had died. I was panic-stricken, then realized there was little to be done, so I let go and just took everything in. The snowy peaks in the distance commanded my attention even as the sunlight became brighter and I had to strain to see them. Around 7 o'clock, we started a leisurely walk back to Darjeeling, and although I kept my eyes on the mountains booming out of Nepal, they simply faded away before my eyes. However frustrated I was that I didn't get any photos, I now feel fortunate I was able to experience that morning so fully. I remember it as clearly as if I had a photo of it right in front of me.

Joanna Tellis lives in Baltimore.

JOANNA TELLIS ICELAND

LISA ALYEA,

BALTIMORE

"...for the fifth time! Iceland has to be one of the best-kept secrets on the planet. No matter what time of year I have been there, the scenery is always incredible, the people are very helpful, and the tours offered are fantastic. The water is always warm, and a trip to the Blue Lagoon on your way back to the airport is a must!"

A CRUISE IN THE AEGEAN

DEBRA L. GOLDBERG

BALTIMORE

"The Cyclades Islands in the Aegean Sea are very diverse, ranging from the uninhabited Delos with spectacular ruins to the jet-set island of Mykonos, where shopping and discos abound. Take nate: The restaurants add a cover charge for bread and silverware, which isn't listed on the menu."

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Pub date: 5/31/98

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