Camped on the shore of Lake Ethel in the Yukon, I woke at 4am, poked my head out of the tent, and saw the sky aflame with the northern lights, it was like coming face to face with glory, or hearing the voice of God. There’s something ineffable about the experience, the lights just hanging there as if they’re just waiting for you to show up before they dance. I crawled down the ladder from the tent on top of my Jeep, fumbled for my gear and my headlamp, and spent an hour photographing the lights as they danced across the sky over the lake and nearby hills. I’ve got one shot I’m thrilled with, hoping it survives the monitor shock when I get it onto my larger displays at home. That photograph, and others I’m making on this trip, will end up in the my fine-art book next year.
This trip has been amazing. There have been times, driving through the hills ablaze with golden aspens, that I’ve lost my breath, other times, in the solitude and serenity of the hills that I’ve come close to tears for the beauty as it spreads out before me towards the horizon in ochre and russet browns, to meet snowy hills and blue skies. I missed the peak of the turning of the leaves here in the north, but would easily trade that for seeing these first snows falling on the still-colourful taiga. I’ve spent two weeks wandering around the muskeg with my tripod and cameras, playing at being a photographer while secretly just being an observer, there for the heady bliss of being somewhere so beautiful, so wild, so remote. I’ve crossed rivers, the water halfway up my doors, to camp on rocky spits in the middle of rivers, and climbed high into the hills to explore old mines and feel the wind whip the mud, thick from the Dempster Highway, off the Jeep. On days like this, as much as I adore what I do with a camera to my face, the photographs pale next to the experience itself.
I’m in Whitehorse now. Stocking up on things, looking for a shower, and getting Emily’s windshield repaired. By the time I rolled into town this morning she was held together with superglue and duct-tape after taking a bullet, a really large rock, and the weight of my buddy Al as we fixed my roof-rack. Holes and cracks, the poor thing was quite a sight! Back to the woods this afternoon, and the beginning of a long slow, week-long, return to Vancouver. See you when I get back!