Photo: Forecast: Clear sky and KP5 northern lights. Reality… Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. February 19, 2020. 19:15
Finally, after endless weeks (months really) of near constant clouds over Lofoten there was a forecast for clear sky on Wednesday night which also happened to coincide with KP5 aurora. Those that have read these posts for a while know that I’m skeptical of both. However, as Tuesday nights aurora was quite good – that of which I could see between the waves of clouds – I decided to be optimistic and take a hike, literally.
As late afternoon passed I hit the road for my destination, half way up Kitind with a view over the west side of Kvalvika beach. The light was fantastic and the sky perfectly clear. I kicked myself for not heading up earlier in the day and not being able to catch sunset, but at least I got some fantastic twilight glow half way up to my destination.
I slightly misjudged where I wanted to shoot from, which was past one final steep 100 meters of ridgeline. But in the fading light, I decided just to stay at a place that was good enough. A smart decision it would later turnout. And so around 17:00 in the fading light I pulled out my sleeping pad and had a cold dinner of Bunnpris pasta salad while waiting for that KP5 aurora to show up.
It never did. What did arrive was clouds. And then more clouds. I could see some clear spots in the sky at times, but the area north, which I needed to be clear, remained almost constantly cloudy. So I waited and waited a bit more. Some test shots showed a hit of green, but nothing more.
A little after 19:00 I used the last batter power on my phone to check the radar, a big wave of snow was due my way in around 30 minutes. Ikke bra!
Normally, under such circumstances I would have camped and weather would have been less of an issue. But as I had to drive to Svolvær relatively early Thursday morning, camping wasn’t an option. I might have already used this as an excuse to not even hike at all, but at the moment Lofoten is completely crowded with photographers, so the only way to be alone is to go up.
Not wanting to hike down with zero visibility and not have my tracks to follow, I made a quick descent off the mountain – much easier than the way up though the deep snow! The sky was fully overcast and a light snow falling when I finally reached my van. Driving home I could see most of the pull out spots filled with cars, patiently waiting for that clear sky and KP5.
It never came. Sometime after midnight, long after I had gone to bed, I could see on one of the webcams that there was some aurora activity into the late morning hours, but nothing worth (for me) waiting up that late for, but I’m sure many did – the benefit of being on holiday…
Sigma 14mm f/1.8