We had a really strange winter. Approaching the winter solstice and still no snow in Alaska! And brrrr was it cold that week!
Our winter solstice seasonal celebration actually happened twice. The day before the winter solstice, we took our seasonal celebration butte hike with the girls. They both wanted to try it and it was a beautiful night so we went for it.
We were slow and didn’t make it all the way, which was expected, especially since it was also 0 degrees.
Zane and I knew we would be back the following day to start earlier and spend more time at the top to hopefully catch more of the alpenglow.
On the official day of the Winter Solstice, we did the hike again just me and Zane. It was somewhere around zero degrees and we were up there for over two hours watching the light fade on the mountains and turn to pink alpenglow.
The sun set at 3:41pm on the solstice, December 21, 2019. Since we do this sunset hike four times a year and the sunset ranges from before dinner time to midnight, it really is an excellent lesson for the kids to experience.
I was snuggled under a down blanket, Zane mostly likes to keep warm by running.
We found moose tracks on the hoar frost!
Did I mention it was cold?!
Spending time hiking with this kid is one of the great joys of my life. I can’t believe I made this little person who loves to do crazy stuff like this with me.
The seasonal tradition continues of hiking the butte at sunset on the solstices and equinoxes. Eliza joined us this time and was thrilled to be part of the tradition (though she may have mostly been in it for the snacks at first…), and Zane was so excited to share this with her.
We started hiking at 7:00 to ensure we had plenty of time at the top before sunset at 7:59.
It was a bit breezy on the way up but the temperature was mild and we made pretty good time, stopping occasionally for Eliza to rest her legs.
As the sun set we talked about the balance of night and day. Zane talked to Eliza about our Summer Solstice hike and how it was at midnight, and we discussed the next sunset hike which would be the Winter Solstice and what the balance of night and day would be like then.
After the sun set the temperature dropped very quickly and we didn’t stay long before making a slow lantern-lit descent.
It’s the summer solstice! The sun set at 11:42 on the Solstice, and Zane and I were there to see it from the Butte. This is part of quarterly/seasonal trips we take up the butte, and I can’t even quantify how excited I am that I made a little someone who will do crazy things like this with me. Possibly three someones! It was one of the best nights of my life.
Zane went to bed at his normal time (7:00pm), and I woke him up around 10:30pm and gave him a little special mango smoothie to help rouse him, but he was so excited he was ready to go! (Unlike waking him up to see the Northern Lights last winter… him and Eliza insisted they wanted to be woken up for it and they were NOT happy about it and asked to go right back inside).
On the way up we stopped a few times for snacks, and to watch ants and beetles! They were more active than I’d ever seen them! We always see ants on the butte but never like this.. maybe we need to do more midnight hikes!
Eliza wasn’t quite ready for this one yet… but she does join us on our next Seasonal Sunset Butte Hike at the Autumnal Equinox!