Sunday, January 27, 2013

Full moon and northern lights

It's cold up here in Alaska: Brrrr!

So cold that Friday I wimped out on my longish run. I bundled up in layers, two hats, two pairs of gloves, etc., walked out the door and was immediately hit with a wind so sharp and brutal that I turned around before I made it to the end of the driveway.

I've NEVER done that before. I've braved temps of -15. Maybe I'm getting old or maybe I'm getting wimpy.

Which meant because I had to get in my semi-long run, I hit the treadmill later that evening for 15 sweaty miles. I sweat at the gym like I never do outdoors, sweat until my shirt is soaked and my hair is dripping and my socks are so damp I can wring them out afterward. I suppose most people sweat like that in the summer, but since we don't have hot summers I miss out on that pleasure.

But last night, oh, last night I redeemed myself and took a long and beautiful moonlight walk with MM and the dog. We walked about six miles, and it was -3 when we headed out just after 11 p.m. The moon was so bright we could see our shadows, and it cast a bluish tint over the snow. We walked until we reached the Coastal Trail, blocks of frozen ice along the shore, swaying white and ghostly.

No one else was around. We had the trail to ourselves. What was so perfect was that we could see the shadows of the tree across the trail so that it was like walking over a tapestry of branches weaving and criss-crossing at our feet.

On the way back we saw the northern lights, faint in the sky and then billowing out greenish gold. I could almost feel them humming, feel the energy. We stopped and watched, and even though we were cold, the wind piercing its way through our layers, we couldn't move. We stood there in awe, watching the sky.

I didn't have my camera but this is how it looked. Source: Alaska Dispatch.

It was cold; it took me hours to fully warm up once we got back home. But it was So. Worth. It. That's the thing about Alaska. Sometimes you have to suffer a little bit to fully immerse in the beauty. Last night was one of those times. 


  1. I hope someone leaves the aurora turned on until I get there!

    1. Remember that old Motel 6 commercial where Tom Bodett (former Alaskan) says, "We'll keep the light on?" Well, I'll see if the sky will promise the same. Seriously, if you're up here in February, you're almost guaranteed to see the northern lights.

  2. Sounds incredibly wonderful. Well worth it.

  3. The sights must be so amazing up there. Just the pictures you post are breath-taking. I'm in Florida, and the summer heat is not fun! You're not missing much.