The Milky Way and Aurora dance together at the Nahanni Range campsite

It was on the Friday before the Halloween weekend that I got notification that there was to be a significant solar storm coming into play for the next few nights. In great determination to capture its beauty in some spectacular places, I packed up the van and my kids and I took off to go spend the next few nights chasing that beautiful Aurora.

Our first night we ended up at one of our absolute favourite places to be, Frances Lake. As I had packed in quite the hurry, I took the time to start organizing and setting up the van for the winter season. Winter clothes were unpacked and hung up on an improvised coat rack, heater hooked up and started for the evening, camera setup with all batteries charged. We put on a movie and cuddled up in our bed and devoured a decent amount of goodies as is the tradition on our van ventures.

The problem with a comfortable bed, and warm temperatures is that it makes it easy to fall asleep, and hard to find the motivation to go out into the cold. The good thing about being in a van, is you have the windows to keep watch and monitor without having to go out into that cold! I woke up around 11:00pm and took a look at what was happening in the sky, things were nice and clear at that point, but no aurora, so I rolled back over and slept a little longer, 12:00am there began a bit of green on the horizon, 12:30am I step outside in my winter gear, only to discover that the sky had quickly become overtaken by fog from the lake.

The next morning we woke up to the same wall of fog. In the daylight, it was incredible to witness, how beautiful it was, illuminated with golden sunlight, billowing across the calm waters, flowing gently though the trees. We spent a good few hours throwing rocks into the lake, crunching ice and playing in the snow. We packed up again and decided that there would be no opportunities there for night fall, so it was time to head to higher altitudes, away from water, and so began our journey up the Nahanni Range road.

The days journey was full of happiness, the mountain ranges were incredible to view, and even more incredible to find camp in. We had only gone a little ways up this road before, so to continue past that point and see so much more was thrilling. We settled ourselves at the Nahanni Range campground, a beautiful site nestled in between mountains with a river running through the far end. So beautiful and so calm.

We started a fire in the little open cabin there, made pancakes, ate mini apple pies and laughed the evening away before settling into the van for the night.

I woke up around 12:00am once again, expecting to see some bright lights as predicted, but alas, once again, there was little there. I went back to bed and rolled over every hour until around 3am when I decided the predictions were not going to come to be this time. I was feeling disappointed, but decided I was going to get up and make the best of it regardless, and I am glad that I did.

You see, when I started night sky photography, I found glee in any clear night sky, I was excited to capture the stars, I was excited to capture the milky way, things were new and felt limitless. After chasing aurora for the majority of my nights, I kind of forgot about the rest of what was up there and the joy it could bring spending time capturing it. I wandered about the campsite playing with tree-lines and silhouettes and ended up with the image shown in this post. Ironically it is one of my absolute favourites I have captured this season. The beauty of the milky way shining bright with a soft aurora bordering it, the varying colour widespread through the scene and the thousands of stars igniting the sky, and the imagination.

I spent a long time just sitting in the snow, watching those millions of stars move around the trees and the mountains. It is funny how you can come with the expectation of one thing, only to find beauty in something else.

The next day, it was of equal beauty, the beginning of winter here had brought with it a beautiful coating of hoar frost, every surface was coated in it, glistening and glittering in the golden sunlight.

We slowly made our way home, drinking in every beautiful thing we saw.

The hunt for the aurora may have not been successful, but sometimes it’s not meant to be. Sometimes things fail in order to bring focus to things we may have otherwise forgotten or simply would have not noticed.

May all your adventures provide you with new perspectives and remind you of old ones.

Charun Stone
Naturally Charun

Photographic prints, canvases, and metal prints of Yukon Aurora and the night sky, including the one in this post, are available here in my Yukon Aurora Gallery.

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