Friday, 19 December from Olderdalen, Norway. Arrived at the Lodge in the dark at about 17:00 yesterday, having caught sight of the first, faint aurora activity from the second ferry leg of the journey from Tromsø at about 16:30. The place is very swish – bedrooms are smallish but comfortable and stylish, there are a couple of nicely furnished communal living spaces, a communal dining table, a little loft off the main living space (for those who want a bit of solitude), a sauna and a hot tub. Fancier than Abisko Mountain Lodge – and definitely more ‘exclusive.’ There are only about 10 rooms – we’re here with a family from the UK (three kids – young adults) as well as a couple from Brisbane (who will also be on the MS Finnmarken from Tromsø to Kirkenes with us).
Meals are included in the price, and we sat down to king crab with celeriac purée, followed by slow cooked lamb in red wine and with root vegetables. Desert was some kind of parfait.
There was a big aurora display tonight – starting round 21:00 as desert was about to be served, and waxing and waning till around midnight.
We got some really good photos courtesy of access to tripods. However, except in a few of the ‘last blast’ photos I took at around 11:00 – where the light from the aurora was so bright, it lit up the snow on the Lyngen Alps – I didn’t get the detail of the scenery I wanted. Apparently I need a longer exposure and I’ll try my luck with that tonight – if it remains clear.
A moderate CME (Coronal Mass Ejection), generated on 17 December, may hit tonight – and deliver an even larger display than the one we saw last night (weather permitting) and another CME from 18 December should hit Sunday night. Here’s hoping because that should be spectacular.
Today we had our second go at dog sledding. This time, we had a team of five dogs for the two of us and Andrew ‘mushed’ while I sat in a long, low sled skimming the snow. It was a blast – especially for Andrew who was justifiably proud of bringing the team, sled and me home intact (despite some hairy moments). Being out in the wilderness was magic. Snow laden trees, dramatic rocky outcrops, the blanket of snow glowing in the strange non-day light.
Our team were stars. We were last in the line of four sleds, and Andrew had to ride them on the brakes most of the way to maintain the requisite distance between our dogs and the next ones in the line. They were pretty competitive, though, and as soon as he gave them their heads they were off trying to catch (and overtake) the others.
We got to meet three litters of husky puppies, 10+ weeks old. So, so cute. (Repeat to self: we are vizsla people, we are vizsla people).
Speaking of vizslas, we bonded on our first night with the chef – Martin, a Dutchman – who has a vizsla (currently residing with his folks while he’s in Norway). Her name is Dora and he thinks she’s gorgeous (though Ciska is, clearly, so much prettier). We introduced him to the Law of Vizsla – you can’t have just one – and he has admitted the truth of it. A convert!
Currently sitting by the fire, about to try out the longer exposure on some practice shots. Will let you know how I go…
Saturday, 20 December. It’s Saturday morning, after a big sleep. I went for a nap at around 20:30, to prepare for further aurora watching and didn’t wake up till just now (12 hours later). All those nights getting to sleep past 1:00 in the morning finally caught up with me.
We got some shots of a promising early aurora display before dinner – but Andrew said there was nothing after that. Wonder if the CME scheduled for last night will hit today.
News from spaceweather.com this morning is that an X-flare – the largest class of solar flares – erupted this morning at 00:27 and seems to be heading this way. Should take two to three days to hit earth, which means we should see them from the sea (weather permitting). The CMEs currently on the way are smaller M-flares.
Off snowshoeing at about 10:00, so guess it’s time to drag myself out of bed and get ready. More later.
We got back from our snowshoe trek up the hill behind the Lodge: great view to the Lyngen Alps and the fjord, and about three hours out in the snow. We saw a lemming, moose and reindeer tracks, and something our guide said he thought was lynx tracks.
It’s 13:30 and the forecast is for Olderdalen is that the temperature will drop from -6C to -17C by 14:00. There’s a fair bit of cloud and there’s a chance of snow, so aurora watching activities may be stymied. That would be a shame, but I guess we can’t hope for a perfect record.