Return to Fielding Lake / by Michael Johns

Casey and I set out on our first Alaska public use cabin trip on New Years Eve two years ago to a place called Fielding Lake, roughly three hours south of Fairbanks along the Richardson Highway. With a cheap Fred Meyer sled that buckled under the weight of excessive fire wood and gear, we walked the short two miles with our late dog Reef to a small cabin situated next to a calm stream within a snowcapped valley. To celebrate the end of a long semester, Casey and I decided to pay a second visit to the Fielding Lake cabin, this time with less weight, a beefier sled, and our new pup Noosa. 

Fair weather and warm temps (for the sub-Arctic) made for a pleasant walk out, with stunning views of the surrounding peaks and stark windswept landscape. A golden sunset mirrored over the unfrozen outlet of the lake, before dipping below the ridge line just after 2pm. Our visit happened to coincide with the winter solstice, with a day length of only three hours and forty minutes at this latitude. 

Our visit to the Fielding Lake cabin also happened to coincide with the arrival of a steady stream of solar wind spewing from a massive hole in the Sun's atmosphere. Space weather forecasters predicted Earth would enter this solar stream during the night of our stay, expected to cause intense displays of Aurora Borealis. The timing, it seems, was a bit off. After checking the sky between games of cribbage and chatting around the wood stove, only minor auroral displays were visible. Still, I managed to capture a few solid bands of green over the cabin before a haze of clouds moved in to coat the landscape with a fresh blanket of snow.