AK 2010, Day 35: My New Favorite Color
My new favorite color is Alaskan Twilight. Dusk lasts for hours here. Just as the “noonday sun” is not directly overhead, sunset this time of year is not your typical ball of orange dropping straight below the horizon. It’s more like a long, lovely courting as the sun slinks slyly along the ridge tops until finally, sliver by sideways sliver, it disappears. At this juncture, the real show begins, with at least two hours of azure highlighted by an array of other colors. Purples and slate grays make up part of the mix and yellow is in constant flux. But by and large, this Alaskan Twilight is the stuff of earthly blues and sun-kissed orange.
[View from Tuesday night, Savage Loop Trail, Denali National Park & Preserve]
[View from Wednesday night, Milepost 22x, Nenana River flowing below]
Of course, all of this starts with a simple rose-blossom light that lifts from the valleys and traces a fine-tipped line to the tops of each peak. I hiked at dust beyond the Savage Loop Trail on Tuesday and told myself I’d hike to the place where the sun receded from the ridges. Of course, I couldn’t outrun the sun. My ambition would have kept me there for hours into the night, but reason won the argument fair and square (Alone? Off trail at dusk? Not smart.) and so I turned back. But not before snapping this photo of a peak at the start of the sun’s receding:
[Note the darkness just a few hundred feet below the peak that’s still adorned with light.]
And of course before the rose-blossom light is the gentle hazing that begins slowly but surely as an ocean tide. It tends to blur the distance between one place and another, as evidenced in this photo I took of Mt. McKinley around 7:30 at night:
Yup, still pretty light out for that time of the evening but we’re losing more than 6 minutes of sunlight per day at this point…That means the sun is setting around 8:45pm or 3 hours earlier than when I arrived in Alaska over a month ago (and closer to 4 hours earlier if you consider I was much farther north during my initial stay).
Still, of all the stages of sunset, it’s Alaskan Twilight I prefer the most. I’ve taken to sitting on the porch each night, a mug of wine in my hand. I like watching the nighttime stake her claim and the stars pinprick their way into the sky. Someday, I hope I find somebody I can share this kind of thing with. Most nights, it feels like too much beauty to try and hold all by myself.