While awaiting the final results of the Hudson Bay Quest to be posted, we can relive what some avid travelers from Natural Habitat Adventures experienced the past couple of weeks. Guide Karen Walker and her third and fourth groups of the season were chasing the northern lights in the Arctic seaport of Churchill. Last year’s overall stormy and overcast weather have given way to this years more clearer skies for optimal viewing. With consistently frigid temperatures in the negative digits all month long, the night sky has remained clear enough for magnificent displays.

Inukshuk in Churchill,MB
Karen and her fourth group of the season experienced some magic on the 36 hour train ride from Winnipeg to Churchill. While stopped at the station in Gillam, this years starting point for the Hudson Bay Quest, the night sky to the South unveiled a slight glimmer of green aurora and most guests were able to watch from their sleeper- cabin rooms  on that same side. The display continued for about an hour giving the group a preview of more prominent lights farther North.Once in Thompson, the group boarded a bus and made the journey to Pisew Falls, a regular stop on Arctic Summer excursions though rarely accessible in Winter. The ice – encrusted falls are reached via boardwalk that winds down through the forest to a pair of  staggered observation platforms. The ice and snow build up around the falls coupled with the peacefulness of the frozen forest create a serenity of a forgotten place. Some also made the trek through snow down another trail ,across the parking lot, leading to an elaborate suspension bridge over a river in the forest. I have made many treks through these woods to these sites with Summer groups. Good times in the North!

The following evening, out at the aurora domes, the night sky reacted to the recent solar storm activity and provided sublime entertainment for four to five hours. The lights would shift from dim to intense throughout the night thrilling guests and giving the photographers in the group ample photo opportunities. The entire sky was filled with dancing, moving lights of greenish tint.

The next day wind lowered the -33 C temp to -47 C wind chill. After a morning presentation by famed Metis elder Myrtle Demeulles, the group braved a dog-sledding excursion with Wapusk Adventures. Dave Daley, owner and head musher, was away at the Canadian Challenge so his able assistants out at Joe Buck’s ridge took good care of the adventurous travelers.

A quite different, more subdued display of aurora showed itself that evening out at the domes. An undulating, flowing light filled most of the sky once again much to the delight of a very fortunate group travelers. the fast moving lights were moving from the West to Northeast with a nice fuller moon to the South..providing nice light on the snowy tundra for photo effects. Another spectacular evening!

The final night of viewing was not to be outdone as the group arrived at the domes after a late dinner. “Really,really good” was how guide Karen described the display..albeit short-lived. As the final traces of light faded into the hazy sky around 11:30 pm, the group breathed a collective sigh acknowledging how fortunate they had been on this journey north.

Topping off the adventure the following day the group tried their hands at curling ..a true northern experience not to be missed. All had “a great time” according to Karen.

For a current aurora forecast click on this link.

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