(Photo of Alpenglow in the Tetons by Ron Niebrugge)
Two of my ultimate favorite parts of the day are just before the sun completely rises and just before it sets. I've always liked this time of day because it's that magical hour that's filled with wonder and reflection. In the morning it's filled with the wonder of what the day will have in store. In the evening, it's a magical hour to reflect on what the day had in store. Being the reflective dreamer that I am, I'm sure you can understand why this is such an important time of day for me.
I didn't know that this time of day actually had a name until I moved to the mountains. Apparently the name for this magical moment is alpenglow, or Alpenglühen in German. According to Wikipedia it is "when the Sun is just below the horizon, [and] a horizontal red glowing band can sometimes be observed on the opposite horizon." In the Midwest, this time of day was more about the feeling for me (mostly because there wasn't much the "red glowing band" could reflect on :) ) But in the mountains it involves more than just a feeling; this is the time of day when the mountains actually glow. The refelction off the "red glowing band" reflects on to the mountains and turns them all shades of orange, yellow, and pink. It only lasts a moment, but if you can catch it, it's one of the most breath-taking moments of the day, especially when the mountains are snow capped and the sky is crystal clear.
Today was a particular special day because I was able to observe alpenglow twice against our big, crystal-blue, Montana sky. I was able to catch it at sunrise while I drove through four different snow-capped mountain ranges on my way to work, and I was able to catch it on top of a hill during my evening run. It was magnificent. It is yet another reminder of why I love the mountains so much. They constantly remind me of how majestic nature can be and how lucky I am to be alive, living out my dream in this most beautiful place.