A Lesson in Alaska Winters, Part 2: The Darkness

Posted By: Sarah

December 22, 2011

Today is winter solstice, the first “official” day of winter. It’s a time for a celebration as the darkest days of winter are now almost behind us. More light is on the way! Today sunrise was at 10:45 am and sunset at 3:20 pm. The sun peaks over the mountains for only a couple hours of direct sunlight and then hides again.

Prior to the start of winter, I was most afraid of the lack of sunlight. I was preparing myself for difficulty adjusting to the darkness. But it's amazing how much a body can adapt to change. I have learned to accept it and enjoy the precious light that is received. At lunch yesterday I sat by the window, soaking up the little bit of sunshine that hit my cheek. There is a slant of light in winter that illuminates the mountains in alpenglow. Sunset and sunrise last for hours instead of minutes. While the light may not shine for long in winter, the little that does warms the soul. 

Daylight may open our eyes to the beauty of the earth, but the darkness opens our eyes to the beauty of the universe: the stars, the moon, the planets, and the aurora borealis. Nothing makes me feel smaller than looking at the vast expanse of space. It's a big universe out there, and we are only a small part of it.

Alaska is a land of extremes. In six months, we will cross over to the summer solstice, basking in nearly 24 hours of light. The midnight sun will illuminate the abundant life that thrives in the short intense summer season. I look forward to witnessing that transition.

This holiday season, may you enjoy the light in the world and in each other.

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Denali Dispatch

It is our pleasure to present Dispatches, a journal of the goings on at Camp Denali & North Face Lodge. Written by members of our staff, Dispatches is an opportunity to peek into the special sightings notebook, brush up on Denali National Park issues, read about our ongoing projects in sustainability, and maybe get a whiff of what’s cooking in the kitchens. Dispatches will carry on through the winter, when we hope to share stories of snowy ski adventures, deep cold, and the events of a small Alaskan community.