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Sunday, 01 January 2017

Chasing the Northern Lights in Finland - Page 2

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As the afternoon passed, our prospects of seeing the lights grew dim. There were clouds most of the day, and it rained, pretty hard, in the afternoon. But as evening approached the clouds blew away, the sky cleared, and our hopes improved. The front desk hotel clerk, whom we had befriended, insisted it was going to be a good night to see the lights, and he booked a tour for us to see them. So, what the heck, we put on layers of clothes, girded our spirits, and went off for our tour.


But when our tour guide (Matti) came to pick us up, we had more doubts. Matti, who was all of 21 years old, drove up in a clunky old van, and then promptly left us to go meet other clients who were going with us. Janis and Ash turned out to be a delightful couple from Boston who were equally excited about the adventure, and our spirits picked up after Matti let us into his company’s offices (which were clean and organized), explained what we were going to do, and loaned us rubber boots, because he said we would be hiking in mud. That sounded like fun, so we put on our boots, jumped in the van, and headed out for a 30-minute ride into the woods north of town. We drove down a paved highway, turned onto a narrow dirt road, which ran into an even narrower rutted lane. As we bounced along we nearly ran into three reindeer, which ran across the path in front of us. We asked Matti if he was taking us to the woods to kidnap us, and when he assured us he wasn’t, we lapsed into silence as we made our way through increasingly dense forests and came to a stop in the middle of the woods. We’re there, he announced, and he turned the van around, hopped out, and started on foot through the woods. We followed in our rubber boots, making our way to two wooden cabins by a small lake. This is where Matti's company takes snowmobiling groups in the winter, and now we were there to see the lights. We stood around the lake while it got dark and Matti headed into the woods to gather firewood. We heard him whistling as he started a fire.


The sun began to set around 9:45, and it reflected an orange glow as it sank into the horizon, making tree shadows on the water. We could hear the crackle of the fire and we grew more confident that at least we wouldn't freeze out here in the woods.


Shortly after the sun disappeared and twilight turned to semi-darkness, a thin wispy cloud appeared in the western sky, running vertically from the horizon up to a point above our heads. We all watched it, but no one said anything at first, but then someone said it seemed different. As we watched, it changed shape and turned light green. I think that might be one, someone finally said, and about that time it twisted slightly, faded away, and was gone. Matti suggested we come over to the fire and sit down on the wooden benches.


We sat around the fire and scanned the sky. Another wispy white cloud appeared, this time in the east – running horizontally most of the way across the sky. It turned green, curled, bent into a horseshoe, and disappeared. Wow, everyone said together, that one danced! Another one appeared in the north, this time a darker green and twisted like a corkscrew. It shimmered, waved, faded, and disappeared. Another green light appeared in the west, above the little lake -- iridescent and pale green, with a thin yellow outline. More appeared – different shapes, sizes, and locations -- colored clouds that twirled and danced, then faded away. It was mysterious and magical! A sky full of green crazy-shaped laser lights.

The show lasted about a half hour, and then stopped. We marveled at what we had seen while Matti cooked sandwiches, sausages, and heated tea on the fire. It was delicious and we felt wonderful! We had just witnessed a magic show from above, and one of the most amazing experiences ever!


And reindeer, too!



©Dale Fehringer


Northern Lights photos (c) Ashok Rao



(Page 2 of 2)
Last modified on Thursday, 29 December 2016

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