Friday Photo #555 – August Aurora

Photo: Northern Lights – Aurora Borealis shine in twilight sky of late August, Nordland, Værøy, Norway. August 19, 2023. 01:29

My prediction from last week (Friday Photo #554) came true and I saw my first northern lights of the 2023-2024 aurora season while over on Værøy for the weekend. I actually had two nights in a row of aurora, both Friday and Saturday nights. This image is from Friday night 18/19 of August and is both my first aurora of the season and also the earliest I’ve ever seen the northern lights on Lofoten – though I have also seen it on this night while floating off the east coast of Greenland in 2015.

Usually my first aurora sighting depends more on weather than the activity of the sun and I usually begin to keep an eye on the night sky beginning around August 20th. So I got a little lucky this year. And after some grey skies this week, it is looking like the weekend is going to clear up again, so hopefully there is a chance for more!

Every year with my first and last aurora sighting posts I comment a little about the still pervasive misinformation of the northern lights being solely a winter phenomenon. They are not! In fact, the northern lights are visible 8 of 12 months, or 2/3rds of the year here on Lofoten. Roughly: August 20 – April 20 – so about a month before/after the equinoxes.

While it was only a brief show that appears in the darkest hour of the night at this time of year, the quickly darkening sky will soon allow the northern lights to appear earlier in the evening with each passing week. And while there were a dozen or so other motorhomes/vans parked on the old airport runway on Værøy this night, I was the only one out enjoying the show…

Head over to my Instagram account for (almost) daily postings of the local conditions here on Lofoten: @distant.north

Camera Info:
Nikon z8
Nikon 14-30mm f/4
ISO 1250
f 4
1.6 Second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #554 – Vaeroy

Photo: Misty clouds swirls around the steep mountain peaks of Værøy. June 24, 2022. 22:13

Unlike this photo, the weather forecast for this weekend is looking quite nice so I’ll be catching the ferry over to Værøy to finish up a few more hikes which I never managed on last year’s trip – such as the mountain ridge in the background of this image. I’ve already added a few of the hikes to the website: Håen, Hornet, Måhornet. But as I get a couple missing routes in, then I’ll add everything to the West Lofoten Hikes ebook sometime later in the year when I updated things.

I wrote last week’s post a few days in advance as I was traveling down along the Helgeland coast. But the temperature broke 29˚c in Leknes – Hot! The hottest day for the last couple years, if I remember correctly. I was lucky with mostly good weather down on the Helgeland coast as well, and was able to visit some new areas for a bit more research. But good weather was to be expected, as checking the weather forecasts and looking for a decent weather window are a primary deciding factor in when and where I might travel when I’m on a short road trip out of Lofoten.

Standing in a t-shirt in the bright morning sun while waiting for a ferry to cross the lake to the east side of the Svartisen glacier a British couple and German couple were having a conversation about their travels. The British had been mostly in northern Norway the last weeks and were complimenting on how nice the weather had been, hot even for them. While the Germans had recently driven up from the south and were complaining that this was the first day without rain since their trip started a week ago. They sounded skeptical about ever coming back to Norway again, as they experienced so much bad weather.

While there is always some luck involved, looking at the weather forecasts and maybe altering your plans a bit, especially if you are in a motorhome/camper van and don’t need to rely on pre-booked accommodation, can be the difference between a sunny or soggy trip to Norway. To put it another way – travel to where the nice weather is! There is also somewhat of a north – south divide to the weather in Norway. Rarely does the whole country experience the same conditions for any continuous amount of time. The last couple years Lofoten has experienced rainy summers while the south has been warm and dry. This year was the opposite, with northern Norway having endless amounts of sunshine while there have been torrential rains and floods in southern/central Norway.

So off to Værøy I go. The sky looks perfectly clear on Sunday, and I have already heard that the first aurora of the year were seen Wednesday night, so maybe I get lucky and will have my first sighting of the year!

Head over to my Instagram account for (almost) daily postings of the local conditions here on Lofoten: @distant.north

Camera Info:
Nikon Z7 II
Nikon 24-200mm f/4-6.3
ISO 100
f 8
1/20 Second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #553 – Last Days Of Summer

Photo: Evening light shines over the mountains of Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. August, 6, 2023. 21:52

It is that time of year when I begin to remind myself to put a headlamp in my backpack – which of course will take me several weeks and multiple evenings wandering dawn from mountains in an ever darkening sky to actually do so. And despite a late summer heat wave this week, the signs are already here that the best of summer is over for this year. I’m looking forward to autumn, and have some big hiking plans, but I still wish summer would last a little longer here in the north. Despite the return of the northern lights in a couple weeks, I’m not ready for the long, cold nights yet.

Lofoten had a fantastic summer this year. Warm, dry, and calm, it was the best summer for a while. Even so, I found myself lacking motivation for much hiking and generally only visited my local ‘exercise’ mountains of Haugheia or Smordalskammen just to keep up a bit of fitness. This was also the first summer where I’ve felt a bit overcrowded. It was as busy with tourism as ever. But more so, local changes like new, expensive parking fees, and the closing of previously existing parking areas, have made it more difficult to visit my favorite areas. For example, it is cheaper for me to take my van to Værøy for a weekend than it now is to camp at Bunes or Horseid beach due the near extortion level of the parking cost in Reine – which is even more expensive than parking at the airport or in Tromsø or Bodø. If one enjoys hiking, it is getting expensive to visit many areas of Lofoten these days.

I also find myself looking beyond Lofoten much more these days, to other areas of Norway and beyond. I’m 3/4th through my biggest ebook project yet – more info once things come closer to completion early next year hopefully, as well as a new 200km hike which I’ll hopefully complete this autumn. So I’ve actually been taking a lot of photos, just not that much of Lofoten, and even less so of Lofoten’s mountains. Maybe once these two big projects (hopefully) are completed next year, I’ll feel a bit less pressure and will be out and about around Lofoten again. There are still plenty of new mountains for me to hike, even on nearby Vestvågøy, such as this image from Blåtind from last Sunday.

Head over to my Instagram account for (almost) daily postings of the local conditions here on Lofoten: @distant.north

Camera Info:
Nikon Z8
Nikon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6
ISO 200
f 7.1
1/500 Second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #552 – Lofoten Moose

Photo: Bull moose standing among summer birch trees, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. July 14, 2023. 19:35

I’m too lazy to be a proper wildlife photographer, but when to situation presents itself, I’ll at least make an attempt. Even if just running errands or shopping in Leknes I’ll take my camera with me, as there’s always a small chance that something interesting might occur. There are a few moose in the area that I need to pass through and a few times a year I’ll see them, though usually too far for any photography.

Driving home on this rainy evening the other week I got lucky to spot a bull moose just on the side of the road and, more importantly, near to an area where I could park and not cause a traffic jam! Careful not to keep my distance, he sat there casually grazing while I shot through the rain until I decided I was wet enough. Not the most interesting photo in the world, but it is not often I photograph the local moose on Vestvågøy.

Head over to my Instagram account for (almost) daily postings of the local conditions here on Lofoten: @distant.north

Camera Info:
Nikon Z8
Nikon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6
ISO 1000
f 5
1/250 Second
WB Daylight