Lowe called his early morning club, the Dawn Patrol. And since that article was published more than a decade ago, many individuals throughout North America have created their own Dawn Patrols.
Approximately a year ago, I moved from guiding over 200 days a year into the American Alpine Institute administrative offices in Bellingham. I have two small children, both of which are under the age of two and I just could no longer be gone as much as I was, guiding full time. The change has been very good for my family. I'm still guiding seven to ten days a month, so I haven't left it completely and probably never will. But my personal adventures have been seriously impacted by these changes.
If I go out climbing or skiing on the weekends and it's not for work, there is a definite level of guilt. I feel bad that I'm not spending my time off with the kids, but am instead going out to recreate without them. Eventually they'll be able to join me, but right now they're a bit too young for anything but riding the backpack on easy day hikes. The result is that I've been thinking a lot about the concept of the Dawn Patrol.
This spring, I've been trying to take a page out of Alex Lowe's book and I've been trying to do some dawn patrols of my own. It's not terribly easy...especially with small children who don't necessarily always sleep through the night, but the few times that I have gone have been incredibly rewarding.
This Spring, Dana Hickenbottom -- another program coordinator -- and I, have gone to Mount Erie in Anacortes twice. The first time we pulled down on a couple of 5.10 sport routes well before our fingers could even come close to warming up for them. And the second time, we completed a pleasant three pitch 5.7 on a nice warm morning. On that second trip, Dana was attacked by at least two very nasty ticks, but tick attacks and potential lyme disease aside, we still had a fantastic time. On both occasions we were basking in the glow of an early morning climbing adventure for the rest of the day.
Though I never Dawn Patrolled in the decade that I lived in Vegas, I certainly had a lot of early morning starts. It would be easy to Dawn Patrol sport climbing and bouldering in Red Rock. Photo by Jason Martin
It's hard to get up so early in the morning to find adventure, but most of us do it all the time in the mountains. If we try, we can certainly reach down deep to find the same motivation that gets us psyched at 2:30 in the morning on a summit day to get up at 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning on a work day in order to find adventure just outside of the cities that we live in...
--Jason D. Martin