The land of the midnight sun

By Sarah Reynolds | Jun 16, 2016
Photo by: Sarah E. Reynolds Kluane Lake turns pink in the glow of sunset around 11:15 p.m.

Destruction Bay, Yukon Territory — For a while now, Maureen has been lamenting the fact that, although she had always wanted to see the midnight sun, and we were now in a place where we could do that, we were so tired each night that we would usually fall into bed before 10.

For me, this was not a problem, it was my usual pattern. I'm a morning person. Not Maureen. She's a natural night owl. At home, her preferred schedule is to get up in the late morning and stay up until midnight or 1 a.m.

Wednesday night, she decided to stay up to see the sunset, which was to take place at 11:59 p.m. local time. I decided to stay up and see it with her. We settled down in our folding chairs with extra layers on because of the evening chill and put an old sleeping bag on top of us.

The evening gradually grew quieter, with fewer bird calls and fewer people walking around the campground or talking outside their campers. We could see part of the St. Elias Mountains to our right across the street from the campground and the beautiful blue Kluane Lake, also surrounded by mountains, a few dozen feet away on our left.

Their were just enough clouds in the sky to make interesting light effects on the mountains as the angle of the sun declined, slowly, slowly.

We sat quietly, watching the movement of the light on the near mountains and on a group of three snowy peaks on the other side of the lake. I'm sure a heard a loon cry two or three times. Around 11 o'clock, the light began to get pink. I walked down to the edge of the lake, where the light was filtered through the clouds. In the east, the white tops of the mountains glowed gently, seemed somehow blurred. The west was golden. It was like no other sunset I've seen, the colors less intense than at lower latitudes, but somehow more pervasive.

We went inside for a few minutes to warm up, then back out to catch the last of the sunset. Just at the last minute, the sun, which had disappeared from the mountains across the street, struck pink on the top of one of them, as the waxing gibbous moon rode between it and the next peak.

It was a transformation well worth staying up for.

Daylight lasts a long time in the far northern summer. This  photo of Kluane Lake in the Yukon was taken just before 10 p.m. local time. (Photo by: Sarah E. Reynolds)
Sunset begins around 11 p.m. in mid-June. It isn't complete until midnight. (Photo by: Sarah E. Reynolds)
Looking west, the lake and sky are colored with gold. (Photo by: Sarah E. Reynolds)
(Photo by: Sarah E. Reynolds)
The very last rays of sun turn the top of a mountain pink as the moon rides the sky nearby. (Photo by: Sarah E. Reynolds)
Sunset blazes in the sky at midnight in the Yukon. (Photo by: Sarah E. Reynolds)
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