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Saturday, 04 December 2021


When I was in the military, I deployed during the Summer to the Far East from Florida with a refuelling stop in Alaska. It was stunningly beautiful to me, orange sun striking the mountains looked like a painting. When I returned to my home base, I immediately put in a volunteer request for transfer to Alaska, a hard to get slot. My orders came down and I was thrilled.

I landed in Anchorage on The 6th of January at 3:00pm... in the dark. I got up the next day, in the dark. Went to a processing building to complete my in-processing only to come outside to see it was dark. The sun would show (won't call it up) around 10:00am and be hitting the horizon by 2:00pm. You could literally be in a meeting for the whole duration of daytime. To quote Bill Murray from Stripes, "And then depression set in."

Yes. What Josh Hawkins said.

The magic hour now appears during my out-and-about hours.

Montana Public TV showed this movie, or sections of it in the 1990s during a fund raiser...I got hooked...amazing person and piece of work. His cabin still stands, and can be visited in the Lake Clark National Park....campsites are nearby.

And I can get my sunrise pictures after breakfast.

I have a marginally better chance of seeing sunrise this time of year, I suppose.

Winter hasn't really started yet, here. There's a bit of ice on the lakes, but no snow on the ground (we've had sprinklings a few times). Winter will kick off sometime in the next month, and runs into March or occasionally April. These days it's a question whether we have a "white Christmas".

When worlds collide. For quite a while now I've been looking at just two blogs day in, day out. If the film is of interest also see the book about Dick Proenneke just published last month by the owner of the other blog, over at Lost Art Press. Cheers.

4:35 here in SE PA, but we're also in a N/S valley between two ridgelines,so our days get further chopped at both ends. Main effect on me is that I want to EAT. Constantly.

My favorite line from the movie is, that the cabin was a toasty 40 degrees. My wife and I are guaranteed to say something like that several times during the cold season.

His book provides a further insight into his life. If you read it after you see the movie, you might be inclined to say he cheated. Still, an impressive feat.

In an odd coincidence, I navigated my browser window from the book page of "The Handcrafted Life of Dick Proenneke" at Lost Art Press, to the main page of TOP. While I have not read this book, it may be of interest if the documentary resonates with anyone:


Nice thing about the movement of the Sun from South to North is the changing shadows. Where I live summer means early and late sun on the North side of buildings. One can plan for specific subject matter ahead of time while hoping for skies that allow the images we visualize.

Here in South Yorkshire, UK, sunrise was at 8:03 and sunset will be at 15:49. And on a grey day - endless cloud and periods of English rain - it never really seems to get light. But there are plenty of people who see even less of the sun at this time of year.

Fun fact: here’s how you compute the maximum height of the sun above the horizon at the Winter Solstice. There’s a formula: 90 - (L+23.5], where L is the latitude of your location. 23.5 is the inclination of the earth, of course. Here in Sheffield that gives an equation of 90 - (53+23.5], which calculates to 13.5° . So on midwinter”s day the sun seems to barely clear the horizon; indeed, I know plenty of places not far from me with hills to the south that mean they don’t get direct sunlight on that day,

For the summer solstice it’s 90 - L + 23.5, and for the equinoxes it’s just 90 - L.

Mike, it could be worse. Up here in the UK (53N where I am), sunset is 15:54 today. In the north of Scotland (59N) it's going to be 15:19 local time (GMT). Of course, we do get longer summer days as compensation. In the far north of Scotland it doesn't really go dark for long in mid-summer.

To put latitudes in some perspective, Syracuse is 43N, Atlanta is 33N, Rekjavik in Iceland is 64N and the Arctic Circle is about 66N at present.

At 47 N and close to 123 W our sunset is 4:22 for 10 days. Good thing you noted you didn’t need to know why earliest sunset and latest sunrise bracket the shortest day. Otherwise you would have 23 of your readers posting answers.
Alone in the Wilderness is a true classic. The skills that guy had are inspiring.
Alone…..in the wilderness, probably the way wet plate photographers feel these days.

Sunset here was at 15:43, and will get earlier. Most of the house requires artificial light all afternoon, especially on dull days. Roll on spring, but there are plenty of jobs to be done inside with the lights on and the heating up!

Proenneke was 51 years old when he started building that cabin.

As to "Alone in the Wilderness" a wonderful film and story. Makes we wonder about the folks who complain so loudly about their camera weighing so
so much and having to carry it around. Such difficulties faced in todays world...

I don’t own many DVDs but I do own Alone in the Wilderness. A remarkable experience and a remarkable film. There is a scene in Seinfeld where George says to Jerry, “We’re not men” and Jerry agrees. That’s how I felt after watching Proenneke. He faces and overcomes a very challenging situation and then decides to film it just for good measure. Not record it, film it. His reality surpasses almost any fantasy of outdoor life.

You sound better prepared for this winter than the last. I think that shed with the pool table helps a lot.
Just guessin'
Dan K.

The video clip was enthralling and a testament to the mans skill as a filmmaker. I tried to buy the dvd but apparently its only available on the USDA and Canada.Rats

You don't NEED to, but the whole thing is a fascinating effect of Earth's elliptic orbit combined with that of its tilted axis, so you might WANT to know... As we're living on a cue ball (this will perk up your billiards attention!) that rotates around the Sun on an elliptic orbit and thus at different distances and speeds over the course of the year, the Sun seems to race ahead or behind our linear clocks. The difference between the clock-driven "mean solar time" and the actual "apparent solar time" in the sky is indeed called the "equation of time": the Sun is "fast" in October-November (rises and sets before it "should" if our clocks were driving it) moving to "slow" in January/February. Combine that with the changing length of the sunrise-to-sunset day, due to the axis tilt, and there you go, earliest sunset is in December but latest sunrise is in January. Old sundials had marks for the "analemma", the 8-shaped figure describing the changes in "sun speed" during the year. Fascinating stuff, to some at least.

All this Northern Hemisphere parochialism! 5:03am sunrise and 7:14pm sunset in Fremantle tomorrow. Also blue skies and 37ºC.

[I have to plead guilty, Phil. Not once when writing that did I think it's the opposite in the antipodes! --Mike]

The sun rises at 8:30 and sets at 4:26 PM in Leusden, the Netherlands. Just 7h56min of daylight. But you can hardly speak of daylight during those hours. It's grey, dull and the temperatures are about 3 degrees Celsius over here. I think I'm gonna watch the suggested movie and sleep on till February afterwards. Thanks for your nice writings!

I've hiked and flown the area where Dick Proenneke built his cabin and then lived for many years is an exception one in the north end of Lake Clark National Park and Preserve.

It's at the edge of where the Kuskokwin lowlands to the west border the nearly vertical Neacola Mountains of the Alaska Range and the volcanic Chigmit Mountains of the Aleutian Range all converge, a truly wild and exceptional place, even by Alaska standards, yet easily accessible by chartered float plane from Anchorage, at least on a clear day.

QT Luong has some very nice images of the area in his book Treasured Lands, which I picked up thanks to your mention here.

Cock-crow at 4 AM this morning in Margaret River, SW Western Australia, followed by Kookaburras at 5 AM, I’ve just been outside at 8 PM (twilight) capturing the close convergence of the Moon and Venus, temperature 32 Celsius!

(In case the curiosity gets the better of you, this is a great explanation, with animation, as to why the earliest sunset isn't on the shortest day of the year: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZMMuv0Ltyo&t=2s)

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