We went to see the Northern Lights and managed to do so.
We all took a week out and took a chance to fulfil a dream. I say took a chance as everything was weather dependant and when we set out was looking a little doubtful. But we went! What’s life with out a little risk and venturing into the unknown?
We landed in Kiruna in Swedish Lapland and were driven north for an hour and a half into the Artic Circle to a place called Abisko. Abisko has its own microclimate due to the lay of the land and, so, has an unusual number of clear night skies. Here it is not unusual to have temperatures below -25C but we were blessed with a heat wave and it was only -8C when we arrived. The sun last rose here in November and will not be seen again until mid-February. Daylight comes about 9.00am and is gone by 3.00pm. During that time we experienced a single sunrise and sunset lasting almost 2 hours but the sun remained below the horizon.
First night, after a well cooked dinner of reindeer fillet we went to the Sky Station, 3 km up the road with the intention of ascending to the summit of a large hill or small mountain (it’s all subjective). But here the weather beat us. Despite pre-booking the chair lifts the high winds made them unusable. So, not to be beaten having travelled so far to be here, we trekked out to a small lodge, enjoyed the benefits of a log fire and drank hot lingonberry juice and ate cinnamon rolls (and the Swedes know how to bake cinnamon rolls). Then we went out and stood in knee deep snow and waited, peering hopefully into the northern skies.
And something happened but not as I was expecting. We have all seen pictures of the Aurora or Northern Lights and there are a series of different colours dancing in the sky. Mainly greens, purples and reds. But I was looking at columns of white lights waving through the sky. They did appeared to perform an elegant dance as they moved across the sky increasing and decreasing in brightness.
It was not until 2 nights later that we saw the lights in all their glory, On this night we arranged to go with a professional photographer who took us 3km into the wilderness on a snowmobile. Here the light pollution was virtually zero. We were each given a digital camera and a tripod (as well as the ubiquitous hot lingonberry juice and warm cinnamon roll) and set in to watch and wait. After about an hour the sky began to change and the white lights I had previously seen 2 nights before appeared but when viewed on the camera’s screen the white was green and red. It appears the camera sees what the eye cannot and it needs an extreme solar storm (the Aurora is the result of solar storms) to produce a multi coloured display that the human eye can enjoy. The Aurora continued to enthral us for the remainder of the evening and we returned to our beds with a sense of achievement.
A thought from Polie
One off the bucket list. Bucket lists are funny things Wic. We fill them with ambitions and goals. Things that are beyond our evewyday life. Things we have to stwive for and go out of our way to achieve and then having achieved them we ticked them off and move on to another thing. That the expewence had on a single occasion will be enough and the satisfaction of being able to say: ‘I’ve done it”, is all we need. Yet we are happy to wepeat lesser expewences over again and again to gain satisfaction. What is it that dwives us to need to achieve? How strange we are and that leads into your thought that has begun the year which is another blog to be written.