Wolf Moon over Clearwater Lake


Tonight is the first full moon of the new year, and it’s known as the Wolf Moon for the hungry wolves howling in the cold, dark woods. But, seriously, in the northwoods I’m not sure how a wolf could go hungry, because there are so many whitetail deer, an invasive species here, living around here.

Last night, I went to Clearwater Lake to photograph the rising Wolf Moon above the cliffs. To get this shot, you need to go the day before the full moon, so that the cliffs are still lit by the sun while the moon hovers in the sky. This was a bit of an adventure for me. I was running late, because I had major projects that I had to finish yesterday, so I raced as fast as I dare up the Gunflint Trail (which is currently coated with ice!) To get to the boat ramp on Clearwater, you have to drive a snowcovered twisty road. And then I strapped on my skis and xc skied out to a point where you can see the cliffs. The snow was crusty and I kept breaking through, which made the ski more like work than like fun.

I was racing the shadows, so it had to work fast. Luckily, I know my gear well enough that I was able to get setup, the right lens on my camera and the right exposure in less than a minute after I dropped my pack. I finally got this shot that I dreamed up a couple of years ago.

In case you’re wondering why the full moon looks small tonight, it’s at apogee which means that it’s at its furthest point from earth. That makes it look about 12% smaller in our sky and that also means that we have smaller tides. When it’s at apogee the moon can exerts up to about 50% less gravitation force than when the moon is at perigee, which is when it’s closest to earth. The biggest full moon of this year is in August. That’s when it will be closest to earth and be in the full moon phase.

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