Everything’s fine until all of a sudden everything is not fine. All that cloud that was slowly passing by on the southern horizon creeped up eating up the city just as I was ready to leave the house tonight. And none of it was in the forecast. It’s not my favourite feeling, but a gentle 60km drive from town revealed clearer and clearer skies and with a lot of luck the aurora seemingly waiting for us.
What a sight for sore eyes. Two days of Octoberish cloud and as our late setting sun was hitting the horizon, clouds cleared and through our few hours tonight, the skies stayed dead clear until it was time to wrap up and venture back into town.
Even I was impressed with myself - at the bottom of our front steps looking up to the sky with a friend and we could distinguish, barely, over the bright twilight sky, a strong arc of aurora. ‘tis the season.
It really could have been we were just out of town a lot earlier or a lot later than everyone else tonight, and were much further out of town too, but, where did everyone go?
The Ingraham Trail felt like a ghost highway of a hundred years ago. No, really, the frost heaves are horrendous. But it just seemed like there was no one else around anywhere tonight, and I loved every single millisecond of that.
My new found joy in an old fashioned mercury thermometer cannot be overstated, and last night it had us at -31 standing out on a frozen lake at the end of the night. Meanwhile my parents are probably out playing pickleball in shorts and t-shirts while my brother kayaks rivers and lakes in the south.
For Morgan and I, there will be plenty of time for the latter this summer, but for now I’m still loving these last weeks driving out of town during twilight chasing the aurora into the countryside.
So there I am standing at the front of my car while she fills with gas, watching out to the darkening eastern sky and swirls of the aurora are playing around low on the horizon. It’s barely dark enough to see her, but already she’s there, and you just knew it was going to be a perfect night ahead.
Aurora conditions were quiet. Like, first photo kind of quiet where the Milky Way was more prominent in the sky than the aurora. But stepping out of the car some 50 kilometres from Yellowknife and seeing the sky completely littered with stars, almost as littered as our oceans are with our trash, it almost felt like the aurora, if she would join us at all, was just going to be an organic, locally grown cherry on top.
And I’ll admit it right away, much to my surprise tonight, the aurora did join us, and several hours in, was absolutely spectacular.
Heavy snow flurries swirled in the sky out our living room window before turning to rain pounding against the corrugated steel siding of our home in winds gusting 50km/h not a half hour later. The highways were covered in fresh snow. The car being hounded by the wind as we drove. The clouds blew in and out faster than we could ever outrun them. And the temperature just hovered around zero. This is everything I love so much about Iceland, and tonight it was everything I loved so much about a fairly stressful few hours.
Clear skies and just -7° meant you didn’t have to go inside and miss a moment of this.
From the drive out of town until we returned hours later, the aurora didn’t rest a moment tonight.