Superstitions

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Afternoon sun near Black Mountain

We have been wanting to try out a backpacking trip with REI Adventures, and with the Superstition Mountains being local we thought this would be a good opportunity.  Since the Phoenix area is already starting to warm up, this was the last scheduled trip till after summer. Being less that two weeks after the Alaska trip, we were prepared for a bit of temperature shock – it turned out to be a record setting week with highs in the 90’s, which is only 120ºF warmer than our coldest outings up north. Fortunately, we had time for a couple of day hikes to get re-acclimated to the desert prior to starting out.

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Tips and Tricks, or “Baby, it’s Cold Outside…”

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Photographers trying not to freeze to their cameras. It was about -25ºF at this point.

I’m something of a desert rat, so while the Alaska trip was not my first experience with extreme cold it’s not something I do on a regular basis.  This post is intended to be a summary of what worked and what didn’t.

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So what’s to do in the Alaskan winter?

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Christian Taylor coming in for the win on day two of the North Pole Junior North American Championships.

While our trip to Alaska was primarily to photograph the aurora, it turns out there was quite a bit to do during the day as well. When we arrived in Fairbanks the latest snow storm was just wrapping up and we took a little walk around downtown.  Smaller than I expected, Fairbanks has a population somewhere around 32,000 which makes it the 2nd largest city in Alaska.

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Northern Lights

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Northern Lights from the Chena River Recreation Area.

I don’t have a “Bucket List” per se, although there are things that I would like to get around to doing. One of those things has been to see the Aurora Borealis. This month the Missus and I spent a week in Alaska where we had the chance to do just that at a Northern Lights workshop presented by Beth Ruggiero-York along with Arizona Highways Photography Workshops . There is an element of luck involved in viewing the Northern Lights. The closer to the pole you are the better the chance, and of course it needs to be dark enough to see it, which means winter. The weather needs to be clear, and finally the sun has to cooperate by being active.

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Night Hike

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Phoenix from South Mountain

We enjoy our outdoors activities, and one of our major suppliers for gear is Recreation Equipment, Inc. In addition to being a major outdoors sports outlet, REI does travel and arranges local workshops and classes. We saw a four hour Night Photography Hike at South Mountain they were hosting and decided it would be fun to go along.

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White Sands Revisited

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White Sands National Monument

Last March we went camping at White Sands National Monument for the first time.  The weather was fairly mild although a bit brisk in the morning.  The winds were impressive.  It turns out that 50 mph gusts are not unusual in the windy season.  We enjoyed the trip, but since we only stayed the one night we didn’t get to do as much hiking as we would have liked, so we decided to return during the off season. With our schedule it turned out the second half of January was a good time, and watched the weather and the launch schedule for the missile range to plan the date. This last week the weather was perfect for photography – cloudy with rain in the forecast and temperatures unseasonably warm with to lows above freezing, and no closures scheduled.  Off we went…

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