Here’s a quick one from the road. Taken last night. The aurora borealis, or northern lights, as it’s commonly called, is absolutely the most mystical, magical, unbelievable thing I’ve ever witnessed, and dare say ever will. I’ll write more on the lights later, but here’s a quick recount of my experience last night (or 2 nights).
I was headed to the north side of the park, during the evening, after finally get my van out from a mudhole I’d stupidly driven into. So I was late heading north. Around 11:30pm, the lights started going overhead, really a great display. I had nowhere to pull over, and watched fromout the front, right, left and rear windows of my van. It’s amazing how the van stayed on the road whilst I’m looking out the back window at 50mph. By the time I got somewhere I could stop the lights faded. So I head for a little campsite I was planning on spending the night, and get some rest. Come dawn, the haze was so bad I couldn’t even see the mountains across the valley, so I didn’t get up early. I spent the day trying to get close enough to some caribou to get decent photos – I got a few, but not many – the caribou are pretty skittish in these parts.
So I aim for sunset – again, the haze ruins it. I hit the sleeping bag. Around 11:30 I look out to see if the lights are doing their thing again. They’re just starting up, so I jump up, dress, and try to get some images. there’s still a little sunset color on the distant horizon, so that’s cool, but the lights aren’t really popping, and the display last only 20 minutes or so. I go back to my sleeping bag and fall asleep. Bummed.
Around 1:30am I wake up, and poke my head outside to see what the sky’s doing. It’s on fire! I jump up, stumble around in the dark trying to get dressed (put my pants on backwards, that’s a first for me), and fumble my way out with camera and tripod in hand. The display gets better and better, reaching from the distant northern horizon all the way overhead to the far southern horizon.I don’t know where to point my camera. My headlamp batteries die, so I’m totally winging it, using ‘the force’, and asking Gaia for some assistance here. The universe responds with more and more intense displays .. the sky dances with a glow that was simply amazing. Eventually the display calms down, and I try to get some sleep around 2:30 .. fat chance.
I finally fall asleep around 4, glad the haze is so thick and knowing that the mountain to the south of my isn’t visible, so there’s no point in getting up early to shoot.
I wake up around 7, look outside, and there’s Mt Sanford, standing atop the Wrangell Mountains like some kind of sentinel of the range, warm early morning clear and bright. I’d missed the alpenglow, doing what I do best: