After visiting Alaska the first time, I knew I was coming back. This time it was different, the journey was longer and colder. My journey took me to Anaktuvuk Pass, before even settling a foot in Bettles. The mountain range was beautiful and all you can see was the peaks of the ice mountains. Native Indians asked me to come and visit Anaktuvuk and I promised I would.
After my arrival in Bettles I was welcomed by my friends, future family. The population of Bettles is 20, 19 adults and 1 child. We would joke every night about, who can name all the 20 people. Anyway, Bettles was different from any other place I have ever been. The first night I was eager to go outside and admire the northern lights. My buddies told me to take it easy and adjust to the ice cold weather, where the temperature drops up to -30F.
That night, the sky was cloudy and it seemed like I would not see the northern lights. I set my alarm at 2 am, with the hope that the sky would clear. At 2 am I was up, running outside with my pajamas to check on the weather. It was clear, no moon and the starts were everywhere. I could tell the light were out too. Being so excited, I turned around to go back into the cabin and get ready with my camera gear to take pictures. To my surprise the door locked. I forgot the unlock the door when I stepped outside. Finding my self in -20F temperature in pajamas I run to the neighbor lodge. Wooo hooo, the door was unlocked and I spend my first night at the guest lodge in the living area. No reception no cell phones in the Arctic, so your excitement can kill you, just like that!!!
Every day in the Arctic can be your last. The nights are long and cold. People from all over the world would come to experience the dog sleigh tours and the northern lights. My friend Noa, the best poser in the world would follow me everywhere, watch the lights with me and beg for food. :)
Days were filled with laughter and joy. Being every night out, enjoying bon-fires was the most enjoyable experience, and just being away from the daily materialistic life makes it even better. No appointment no bills,just free spirit. I would take the sleigh out and sit for hours watching the sky. you can even see the satellites orbiting the Earth, if you look closely. Every night the guests of the lodge would go to the pond, where they could get the best pictures of the aurora. Green light merging into red, just amazing!
Taking pictures in Alaska is a hassle. The battery dies in about a minute to two, depending on the temperature. I would keep my spare battery in my hands warmer to keep them warm and exchange them as quick as possible. Head lamp is a must, otherwise you wont know where you are if you get lost. The good think about Bettles is the weather station, that has a bridge rotating light. It's like a light house on the sea. One night I got lost with the van and got stuck in the deep snow that had fallen the day before. I had to leave the van behind and run back to figure out where I was. The weather station was a great guide. While running back to the cabin my hair was exposed to the minus temperatures. After entering the cabin and drastic change in temperature caused my hair to break. I was exhausted from running. My buddy Noa wasn't there so it made it even more difficult. My friends pulled the van out, and we were on our way to pick up the guest who went to the pond to watch the northern lights.
Next day everyone had a good laugh about what to do and what to avoid in the Arctic. I was not afraid to go out and face the ice cold weather. Arctic storms are common and you have to be prepare any time to face it. One night the temperature dropped below 42F. My friend, a native American who was born and raised in the Arctic, run into the cabin rushing me out to see the ice moon. When the temperatures drops low and it is full moon, a white ring forms around the moon, better described in the atmosphere.
So much from Arctic, the rest in on you to explore... and let me know if that mothership comes back!
Off to Middle East...