Alaska has been my home for 8 months now but the northern lights have managed to elude me thus far. I’ve been tracking their levels and the weather and heading out into the night any time I get the chance. However, like Mt McKinley, the lights are a fickle creature.
With the Kp reporting at a steady 5 and the skies crystal clear, my co-worker Malissa, who is also stationed up here and has yet to see the lights, took off around 10pm last night to drive away from the artificial lighting of the city. Armed with an ample supply of caffeine we started down the Parks Hwy. Despite the prime conditions we drove the entire way to the south viewpoint of McKinley. The moon was bright and lighting up the entire Alaska Range. Not a cloud hung in the air and I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed Denali looking quite so beautiful as she did in that moment – dressed in her white blanket of snow.
Although the temperature was only in the teens, the cold began creeping into our bones so we turned our backs to the mountain and headed back to the Subaru. The view of McKinley itself was well worth the overnight drive, but we were both a little disappointed to be heading back to Anchorage without seeing what we had set out for.
Somewhere after Willow but before Wasilla a random car was pulled over on the side of the road. It’s driver was standing just outside the door, armed with a camera, pointing it in the direction we were coming from. Malissa, curious as to what they were photographing, turned to look and screamed ‘the lights!’ I slammed on the breaks. We slid to a quick stop, reversed the car into a pull-out we just happened to be beside, and jumped out of the car.
Silky green ribbons flowed through the sky in what seemed to be a perfectly choreographed dance. They were already starting to recede before I remembered the camera in my hand. It took several minutes of photographing before I started to master the settings needed to capture the northern lights. However, I quickly came to realize that in order to capture these things properly, I’m going to need to invest in a tripod and shutter release in the near future. Despite the blurriness of the photos, I thought I’d share them with you anyways.
It was nearing 5 in the morning before I crawled into bed next to my sleeping husband. Normally, we’re fixing to get up around that time. As my mind began to settle into sleep, my last thought was this: 2015 is going to be one hell of a year. I can feel it deep in my bones.