March 10 - March 19, 2015

Finland


Why go to Finland in the Winter?  Sharon and I have been searching for a clear view of the Northern Lights for years, traveling to northern Alaska, New Foundland, Iceland...
but either weather or low solar flare activity prevented us from seeing the Lights. During the winter in Finland, especially northern Finland, we read that there was a 98% chance of experencing the Aurora Borealallis.  We flew to Helsinki, then to Ivalo, 230 miles north of the Arctic Circle.  From there, we went a tad west and north, to a small community of Inari.

This was our abode for our first night:

  A  small cabin (6' x 8'),
handmade by Esko, with glass on four sides in the front where
there was a platform bed.

 

We settled in and x-country skied to the cultual museum a mile or so away.

    

When dusk came,
Esko showed up with his snowmobile, attached the cabin to it, and slid us out farther on the lake.
Great viewing spot. Sunsets go on for quite a long time...


It case you were wondering about being on a lake far from shore...
the instructions we found in the cabin, made us feel safe:


Sharon and I took 1/2 hour sleeping shifts, waking the other up when there was activity in the night sky.
It was a pretty quiet night.

Our next destination found us going east and further north, to an even smaller village, Nellim.  From here, the Russian boarder is only 5 miles away.
We did get to experience what that looked and felt like...
 
...on our way to a bridge from which to see the Auroras. The Lights were beautiful, twice. In the sky
and reflected in the calm water of the river below.
(the reason you are not seeing photos of the Lights at this point, is that I went on this adventure
with the intent to just BE with the Loghts and not caught spending time behind a camera.)

Lappland would not be Lappland without Reindeer:

    

Not wanting to miss any opportunity, one of our night s was spent in an Aurora Bubble:


Almost a 360 degree view of the sky. We watched as the Lights developed,
but we did not go to Finland to be warm and cozy, and when the activity really started to make the Lights ripple and wave,
we went out to the lake in front of the Bubble to feel the full effects of the Auroras.

(By now, my artist self is wanting to take a few photos.  I found an app for my iPhone that allowed me to control
the shutter speed. Kind of worked, but then I went to my  point-and-shoot to experiment.)

Meanwhile, to get as full of an experience of Finland's beauty,
we were taken by sledge, pulled by our guide's snow-mobile, to the Sarmi Wilderness Lodge, four miles from where we had been staying.


Here, we found total quiet. Our guide, Jukka, taught us about ice fishing:

    
We did not catch any fish, but Jukka started a fire and we roasted Reindeer saugages and had hot wild berry drink.
You will notice that we are sitting on Reindeer hides. The Reindeer, which is still herded but to a lesser degree than in past,
provided the Sami People almost all of their needs. Warmth being one, along with food, milk, cheese, bone and antler for tools.

  Arctic Sun at high noon..

...producing long shadows. 

We head back through the pine and birch forest...

  for several more nights in Nellim.

On our very last night,
( I finally figured out how to bump the ISO up to 12800  on the point-and-shoot camera)
A  massive Solar f lare hit the Earth...

...the most amzing thing we have ever experienced.

Would we go back?   In a heart beat!