Top 7 sunsets of the summer
The summer break is over. Autumn is almost here. I'm back to sitting at the desk under my childhood loft bed in the Netherlands, trying to motivate myself to apply for jobs and find some direction for my life. As nice as it is to be home and to be getting back into a routine, I'm missing the epic adventure Brett and I had together in the United States this summer. Taking two months away from our day-to-day lives is something we know will not be feasible every year (if ever again), which made this trip even more special.
As we explored the cities and wilderness of the West Coast, we saw some truly beautiful places and were rewarded by some spectacular sunsets. In this post, I'll share the story of the seven summer sunsets that really stick out in my memory...
1. Thousand Island Lake: Ansel Adams Wilderness, California (22 July)
On our second backpacking trip, we camped on the shores of Thousand Island Lake. As we cooked mac n' cheese for dinner, the sky began to come alive with colour. It's hard to describe how magical this sunset was. The sky was streaked with orange clouds that quickly turned a vibrant pink. Banner Peak glowed in the pink light, rising dramatic as always over the far shore of the lake. What a spectacular setting to witness Mother Nature's show.
2. Saguaro Lake: Tonto National Forest, Arizona (28 August)
Towards the end of my trip in the United States, I spent a week in Arizona visiting Rachel, a friend I met while in kindergarten in North Carolina. With temperatures in Tempe over 110 ºF (43 ºC) every day, it was too hot for us to do anything more adventurous than walk to the nearby stores. Eager for a break from the heat, we ventured out to the nearby mountains on the weekend. As we drove back after a wonderful day of exploring, we decided to find somewhere to stop so we could watch the sunset. We randomly picked Saguaro Lake as our destination. Pulling into the parking lot, we were impressed at the scale of the lake and the cliffs surrounding it, but the real magic was yet to come. As we found somewhere to go swimming, the colours of the sky changed from oranges and yellows, to deep pinks and purples. It was the warmest swim I have done since I started wild swimming earlier this year, made all the more special by the kaleidoscope of colours reflecting off the surface of the lake.
3. Lake Aloha: Desolation Wilderness, California (29 July)
After a stormy afternoon, Mother Nature spoiled us for our final night camping, providing this dramatic sunset over Lake Aloha. We sat on the hill overlooking the lake, reflecting on our trip and enjoying the many colours of the sky. It was a peaceful way to end what had been a slightly stressful day of avoiding electrical storms.
4. Ocean Beach: San Diego, California (23 June)
Soon after arriving in the US, we joined Brett's twin, Siena, and her boyfriend, Zach, at Ocean Beach for the weekly farmers market. As the sun began to get low on the horizon, we raced back to the beach, samosas in hand, to watch the sun set over the Pacific Ocean. I was amused when the spectators on the beach burst into spontaneous applause when the sun finally disappeared over the horizon. Welcome to Southern California!
5. Merced River: Yosemite Valley, California (27 July)
This was less of a dramatic sunset, and more of just a striking place to be for sunset. After a day exploring Yosemite Valley, we sat on the beach at the edge of the Merced River, watching the evening light crawl up the face of Half Dome and finally disappear entirely. The peaceful mood of the scene was only disrupted by the group of people partying to loud music just around the corner.
6. Some random beach: Big Sur, California (16 August)
We took two days to travel back down to San Diego from the Bay Area, driving along Highway 1 so we could experience Big Sur and stop by Santa Barbara. The drive through Big Sur was spectacular, but the dramatic views of the coast meant that we were stopping every couple of minutes to get out of the car and take pictures. By the time the road reached flat terrain, the sun was beginning to set (and we were realising we still had hours before we would reach our campsite). Brett stopped the car at a viewpoint by the beach and we got out to watch as the sun dipped behind the horizon. The colours reflected on the wet sand are what made the beach sunset so spectacular.
7. The Bay: San Diego, California (4 July)
After Mexican food and margaritas in Old Town, we headed out towards the bay to watch the Fourth of July fireworks with Ben, one of Brett's friends from high school. We found a spot to sit in Tuna Harbor Park, just across from the USS Midway and right on the water. The speckled clouds above us made for a dramatic backdrop for our picture at the Kissing Sailor (or 'Unconditional Surrender') Statue. We sat at the park as the sun set behind a bank of clouds and the sky grew dark, before the fireworks were finally set off over the bay.
The summer was a collection of many magical moments, with these sunsets being just a few of them. Here's to watching more sunsets together in the future.