If you’ve been following along our journey, you may have realised that Day 4 was a big day. It started with crossing the Arctic Circle, a walk along the Arctic Coastline near Bodo, and a Viking Yuletide ceremony. We returned from the Viking Hall quite satisfied and a bit sleepy (combination of the mead and an active day). There were a couple more things on the programme, one being a photography demonstration and workshop to help with capturing pictures of the Northern Lights, and the other was a potential trip down the Trollfjorden – but first a quick nap.
The Northern Lights is like the Holy Grail of this cruise. Each evening the Expedition Team tease us with the forecast, making no promises of course – this is Mother Nature, no one can tell her when or where to put on a show. There are so many variables to being able to see the lights, the main one of course is the clouds. They really need to move off or at least allow some starry blackness to be seen!
We had been told that if it appears and the crew notice – they can’t see all areas of the sky at once – they will make an announcement. So barely through the introduction on how to photograph them, there came an announcement that the Northern Lights could be seen from the port side of the ship!
Stampede! About 50 or so people (including us) would’ve run down our own grandmothers to get out there to see this wonder. All week, before we went to bed would set our camera up and have our warm clothes out ready to jump into and get out. As it happened at this particular time, we didn’t have our tripod and we didn’t have our warm over clothes on or ready either.
I’d heard not to expect to see bright colours flashing across the sky. That’s not how it works. The colour particles are not seen by the naked eye, but show up after being photographed. So to the naked eye it looks like an eerie cirrus cloud streaking and moving across the sky.
Confusion. Not everyone had realised that. There were some bewildered passengers wandering about the ship looking to the sky for vibrant green and fluorescent flashes in the sky. Underwhelming if you didn’t realise.
Andy had rushed back to grab the tripod from our room, I raced out to start taking money shots of this awesome natural phenomenon.
Andy found me a few minutes later. The couple of shots I’d fired off were ok, but the boat was moving and I didn’t have the tripod to stablise the camera, so now it would be better. It was dark, my hands were frozen, we were panicking in case it disappeared as suddenly as it appeared, and we wanted “the shot”. If we could watch back now it would be comic. We fumbled in the dark with the tripod, couldn’t get the camera on fast enough, which made it harder and with Andy trying to fix the legs and me at the other end trying to fix the camera it was quite ridiculous. Add to this dozens of people now flooding to the deck popping off their flashes at the ships exhaust cloud saying ‘Is that it? Is that all it is?’…jostling and knocking each other and us in the process.
Eventually we sorted ourselves out and settled down. The camera settings with our ‘you-beaut’ new lens still required an 8 second shutter speed, which, with the ships movement and vibration rendered the tripod all but useless really. Anyway, did our best and you can see the best of the bunch in this post. I’m really happy that we captured the green sky and got to test run the lens. When we are on stable ground, I’m pretty confident we’ll be able to capture some lovely pictures.
By now it was after 11pm. We were pretty stoked to have started the day ticking off one of our milestones and closing it with the other…but like all good productions, there was an encore!
The ships captain was going to take us to the ‘Trollfjorden’. The Trollfjord is a 2km side arm of the Raftsund and borders both the Lofoton area and Vesteralen archipelago. It has a very narrow entrance and steep high mountain sides ranging from 600-1100m high. The total width is about 100 metres at the entrance and as narrow as 80m across in some parts according to the Expedition Team. The Hurtigruten ships often venture to the mouth of the Trollfjord and the Captain decides then whether or not the conditions are right to go down, turn around and and come back out again. In the winter months they are forbidden to take the detour due to avalanche risk.
Back in 1890 it was the site of a battle between the fishermen of the region. One side with steamboats and the other in traditional boats. There are famous paintings of this battle.
As we approached Trollfjorden the crew assembled on the upper deck to serve us hot soup and ‘special tea’. As the captain judged the conditions, the Northern Lights made an appearance – surely a good omen.
The captain gave the thumbs up and steered the Nordlys (meaning Northern Lights) towards the 100m entrance. We entered the steep narrow fjord. It was dark of course, so there are no pictures to convey the magnificence of this place. Spotlights were directed onto and about the cliffs, however the moonlight lights were also enough to catch the white ice and snow to highlight the scene. The water was dark but also reflected the natural lights.
It felt as though we could reach out and touch the cliffs they seemed so close and high overhead. Whilst we would have loved to capture this on film, it is something to also have experienced this a night time with the Aurora overhead. Quite rare and special.
At the end of the fjord, just 800m wide, the captain had to do a 3 point turn to take us back out and back on our route. The front of the ship was just metres away from the cliff face.
The Trolls feature in the journey of course, and we had to keep very quiet so as not to wake them, and keep a close eye out behind us as they chase away intruders.
We had certainly experienced a lot in this very full day!