The Aurora - A Bucket List Adventure in Alaska - 2017

08th May 2017
On top of my Bucket List was to see the beautiful Northern Lights! Home being semi-tropical Australia my understanding of "cold weather" was as limited as my wardrobe for freezing temperatures! So with borrowed kit I headed "North to Alaska" where I joined a small group of fellow adventurers in search of the ever elusive Aurora!

Our adventure started in Fairbanks, a large town situated under the Aurora Belt. Heading out of town to avoid light pollution we experienced two nights of the most amazing Aurora displays. The temperatures were extremely cold - down to -35 degrees centigrade.
The lights started with a green band across the northern horizon - gradually this band started to lift up in the sky and then divided into fingers of glorious green light. Some of these fingers then expanded into curtains and started to dance and shimmer across the sky - this was pure magic! It felt like these amazing particles were dancing all around us! At polar midnight the Aurora seemed to have a final burst of light and colour and lit up the entire landscape! Then the magic was gone and we stood in utter silence left in awe by one of nature's amazing spectacles!

We were lucky to also see the start of the Iditarod - the famous Dog Sled race. Eighty-five Mushers each with 16 dog-teams were racing from Fairbanks to Nome 1700km away. We watched as the first few teams came down the frozen river, the dogs were exuberant with tongues lolling and grins on their faces as the frost and snow settled on their coats - their paws were protected by little leather booties! Dee Dee Jonrawe was a popular Musher in her hot pink outfit. Dee Dee is a breast cancer survivor and competes each year to raise awareness for this dreadful disease.

Our adventure continued as we followed the trans-Alaskan Pipeline and headed further north along the treacherous Dalton Highway into the Brookes Ranges. We crossed the Arctic Circle, and continued a further 120 km to Wiseman. We took a day drive further up the Dalton Highway to the infamous "Atigun Pass" which is prone to white-outs and avalanche. It is steep and slippery and contributes to the Dalton Highway being one of the World's most dangerous roads! We survived the Pass and came out to see the end of the Brookes Range and the start of the Tundra - it was freezing cold here -33 degrees centigrade at midday!

Wiseman is a small mining community founded in 1908 by Gold Miners. The Aurora performed for us again in Wiseman - we just walked outside our little log cabin and looked up and there it was dancing across the skies! - it snowed on our last day and as I had never seen snow falling before I was mesmerized by this winter wonderland!

As the snow continued to fall we left Wiseman and headed back down the notorious Dalton Highway in white-out conditions with zero visibility. It most certainly was an adventure and I count myself so lucky to have seen those elusive amazing dancing lights of the north - a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Link to "Northern Lights Workshop" at First Light Tours with Andy Long:
www.firstlighttours.com