New Truck, New Adventures!

December 19th, 2014

A few months ago I purchased a brand new 2015 Xterra Pro-4x complete with skid plates and beefed up suspension engineered for off-road use. Of course what better place to test out the off-road capability than up in the Addington Highlands. So on December 19th, 2014 I called Graeme and asked if he was up for a winter adventure – braving the cold night to do some astrophotography. Of course he was! So off we went, deep into the Addington Highlands and up a crazy trail into the heart of darkness…

When we arrived at the foot of the hill to get up to our spot, we were confronted with a snowbank as tall as the hood of the truck beside the sign that read “No winter maintenance past this point.” We looked at each other with excitement as I put the truck into 4 wheel drive and made a run for the snowbank separating us from the trail up the hill. The truck cleared the snowbank easily. I mean we nearly got air! We now made our way up the steep climb. At times I needed to use the windshield wipers as snow came up over the hood as we literally snow-plowed the road going uphill. Graeme sat in the passenger seat having the time of his life with a smile from ear to ear as we cleared each corner. Then the trail grew steeper. My brand new Nokian Hakkapellitta winter tires dug in nicely and we roared upwards.

Once up at the cabin we set up our gear after dusting all the snow off the truck. I used my Takahashi FSQ106 to capture various targets in the sky while Graeme pulled out a few DSLRs and mounted them up on his tripods to shoot some nightscapes of his own. At a certain point since it was super cold outside we decided to retreat to the warmth of our “warm room” – the Xterra. Since we didn’t want to ruin our night vision we used red lights to find our way around. It sure was dark up there that night.

Graeme sat in the passenger seat having the time of his life with a smile from ear to ear as we cleared each corner and the trail grew steeper!

Later in the night I noticed some skyglow to the north near the Pembroke area and thought it could be some active auroras. The image shown above was initially only a test image used to determine if there were indeed faint auroras up there. Instead it ended up being a nightscape image with beautiful skyglow, capturing the fun we had that night. I have since showed it many times to friends who wonder what it would be like to go up there during winter to see the night sky.

I took the image with a Canon 5D Mark II and the original Rokinon 14mm manual focus lens. The camera was set to ISO1600 and a 30 second exposure was captured with the lens wide open at f/2.8.

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