The red sky hugging the hills to the east told me that I was late and would have to hurry to get to the overlook on Buckeye Mountain in time for the sunrise. Junie and I double-timed in the near darkness along the trail that starts out level and gradually gets steeper as you go, and steepest as it turns sharply to the right and follows the spine of the mountain upwards to its peak. Here and there I could just make out the yellows and reds of leaves above and around the trail that seemed suspended in the dark on nothing.
I couldn't remember exactly how long the hike up to the overlook was, but an occasional look over my shoulder at the advance of colors in the east was enough to tell me that if I did make it in time, it would be just barely. So we pressed on at a much faster clip than I was in shape for, since it didn't make any sense to get up at one in the morning and drive for four hours halfway across the state only to be a few minutes too late to photograph what I came for.
And, huffing and puffing, I made it. Before the sun could climb the mountains to the east, we managed to climb Buckeye Mountain up to the overlook with views of Caney and Blaylock Creek valleys and the surrounding ridges and mountains. And I would have been waiting with camera poised atop the tripod, ready to take a picture when the first sliver of sun inched above the those mountains, if it hadn't been for, if it hadn't been for, excuse me while I catch my breath, if it hadn't been for equipment malfunction, compounded by brain malfunction. It took me a minute to figure out why the head of my tripod spun freely and could not be locked down even though both locking screws were tightened down all the way. And by the time I solved the mystery and slapped a lens on the camera and slapped the camera onto the tripod, half the sun was already above the horizon.