Forward Travel co-Founder, Rose ventured to Yellowknife in Canada’s North-West Territories in August 2016, with the faint hope of seeing the sky dance.
And then I saw the light(s)
I was standing on the porch with my tour guide and he asked me “are you ready?” I said I was not sure. This could change me, my memories and what I am thinking about tomorrow. As a traveller, you sense when something special might happen, and if you’ve travelled halfway round the world to see something that is not guaranteed, but might be amazing, you have a trepidation about it. Could it really be that good? Was it worthy of the effort to reach it?
What I might see, feel, and experience tonight will be unlike anything I have known and could never be undone. My long-held dream could become a reality and what would I do with that knowledge? This was more than an evening tour, this was as big as the entire sky.
And with that knowledge, and a bunch of warm clothes, we set out to chase the sky.
I was in Yellowknife, Northern Canada, home to some of the best Aurora viewing on the planet, and although it was overcast he promised me the skies would clear.
We drove into the darkness, letting the sky lead us to the light, well-armed with all the apps, expertise, hot chocolate, and patience, needed to show a willing traveller the sky dance.
Leaving town, the darkness encroached and we soon pulled off the road into a clearing. Devoid of light pollution I immediately spotted Pleiades, my favourite constellation, and my way of sensing the clarity of the sky. Counting the entire 7 sisters I knew my travel Gods were with me and we just needed the sun to send the lights our way.
The sun must have known I wanted to be impressed, perhaps she sensed my doubt about how impressive they could be, but oh my, I was impressed.
It was like being in a theatre when the curtain sways across the stage as it opens and closes. Except this stage was the entire sky, and the lights were flowing above my head. Colours of green and gold swayed over me and I was entranced. My guide asked if I wanted to photograph the moment, but no, I just wanted to watch it. I was immersed in the experience, and didn’t want a camera to separate me from it.
For two hours we stood there watching the sweeping lights illuminate the sky. One person went back to the car to seek warmth, but even in -5 Celsius I felt no cold, and no desire to remove myself from this other world I had escaped into.
The Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, had so completely captivated me I could not move, nor had any wish to escape.
I had alway thought to see the Aurora meant travelling in deep winter and extreme cold, but Yellowknife is different. Its season starts in late August, and is superb. Day temperatures reach 15 Celsius and even late night sky gazing only gets down to -5, almost tropical really. You can also come in winter if -30 Celsius is more appealing.
I had already been in The Arctic, completely captivated by healthy polar bears and stark lanscapes. I had made friends and said tearful goodbyes, with a hope that Yellowknife would be interesting. Little little did I know, it would change my life.
And yes, eventually I did take photos.
In August 2017 I am leading our Arctic and Aurora Forward Journey, taking 15 Forward Travellers back to Yellowknife, and The Arctic.
Our 2018 Arctic and Aurora Journey is out now.
Just 16 places are available so check the Forward Journeys page to see the details, and please call or email me with any questions.
I’d be thrilled to chat about it.