Aurora chasing road trip – part 1

On 9 Jan 2014, I went on a spontaneous road trip in hope to find clear skies and see crazy auroras up there. When I saw a day earlier the aurora forecast, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I’ve never seen such high numbers! The weather forecast in Oulu was terrible, clouds, clouds and more clouds. So if I wanted to see anything I had to drive a long way into Lapland. I was struggling with the decision. Driving 410km there was one thing. Spending almost all night out in the cold and then drive all the way back was another one. In the end I said to myself “Go for it”. I suppose the fact that I had not seen auroras for almost a month did ‘help’. Thanks to my colleagues and boss, I was able to take off 1,5 days and also my wife knew I just had to do this.

The next day, I started to drive around 2pm and a few hours later it was already dark. After reeling off 300km I still didn’t see any sign of clear skies. Suddenly I was worried that my long drive wouldn’t pay off. Closer to Muonio I looked outside and saw the prettiest thing in the sky, a star! I stopped the car and all the clouds were gone. Quickly I hopped back into the car and drove to a cabin I booked earlier. There, I just changed into two sets of thermal underwear, thick trousers and a warm winter jacket.

I didn’t wanna waste any time, so I left right away, searching for a good spot. While searching I came across a stream, not frozen. The bright moonlight lit up the snow around it and I just had to take some photos. The scenery was so nice, I quite much forgot about the Northern lights. Once I was ready to continue I saw some familiar light rising up behind the trees. Aurora time! And I was in the perfect spot, the perfect setup I had in my mind about for nearly two years. Believe it or not, such a scenery with auroras was in my mind for that long time and this was the first time all pieces came together.

Well, to keep it short, I was and I still am extremely happy 🙂

After this, I made my way to a frozen lake and found a snow mobile track to a cabin on the other side. 15m in all was fine, then suddenly the ice was cracking somewhere close. Too close.. I quickly backed off a few steps and all seemed fine. Once my camera was set up the wait began. No auroras at the skies, -20C and quite strong wind wasn’t the coziest of my experiences.

At some point, Northern lights started to dance on the horizon and started a time-lapse sequence in hope to catch something crazy. Unfortunately it lasted only for a few minutes, then the next wait began.

Being there for more than four hours, the cold started to creep into my multilayered clothing. Hot tea didn’t help much and my mind drifted off to the warm cabin. Ninety minutes later I packed up my gear and gave up. The big show didn’t happen and I was just too cold. Around 4am I was back at the cabin, thankful for the warmth and reluctant to even look outside. But once you are hooked to auroras, it won’t let you just go to sleep. I kept watch for another hour with nothing happening in the skies. Finally I turned in and apparently fell asleep…. to be continued 🙂

The long wiat


My camera and me waiting for auroras

Copyright: Thomas Kast

Frozen lake, a cabin on the far side with a snow-covered fell.

As usually, visit my webpage for more photos. You’ll also find some of my time-lapse videos, tour offers and a webshop for prints and canvas.

One response to “Aurora chasing road trip – part 1

  1. Pingback: Aurora chasing road trip – part 2 | Salamapaja

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