It was one of Joe Bailey’s first Aurora hunting tours.
On the Ingraham Trail, a 70-kilometre highway weaving eastward from Yellowknife past endless lakes and forest, Bailey swapped stories with his lone guest, a 72-year-old Englishman on the last stop of a voyage around the world. When Bailey—known in these parts as Joe the Aurora Hunter—pulled off at a scenic viewpoint near Prelude Lake, the Northern Lights were a shimmering river in the sky.
That’s when his guest shuffled 20 feet away and began to weep. “He said, ‘I apologize, Joe. I was just overcome with emotions. I’ve travelled the world for two years and seen many things—this is the best I’ve seen in those two years.’” The experience was as powerful for Bailey as it was for his guest, confirming how intensely the Northern Lights move people.
Although that night occurred nearly 14 years ago, Bailey tells the story—animating every detail, relaying the guest’s backstory—like it happened yesterday.
This is what Bailey, owner of North Star Adventures, provides to visitors: the chance to make a real connection—even a friend. Take the guest from Adelaide, Australia, who first joined Bailey on an Aurora hunting trip as a bachelor. A few years later, the Australian came back to Yellowknife and North Star to see the Aurora with his girlfriend. Recently, Bailey says, the couple returned to see the Northern Lights—this time as husband and wife.