09.02.2016

Iceland at night - a background story

Iceland is well-known for its spectacular landscapes, but also for its unpredictable weather. Continuous rain can be quite demotivating, especially if one knows that northern lights have been predicted, which, of course, can only be seen on a clear night sky. This was exactly the situation I faced when I was in Þórsmörk last autumn.

I was not too enthusiastic when I decided to climb mount Valahnúkur just after sunset. It rained but it was also windy, and that made me hope for an opening in the cloud cover that might allow me to catch a glimpse of the promised northern lights.

It was dark and rained steadily when I reached the summit. I sat down, turned my back into the wind (as I had learned from the Icelandic horses years ago...) and waited. An hour passed without any change in weather, and I was seriously questioning my sanity, when, suddenly, the night sky became visible. Just above the famous glacier / volcano Eyjafjallajökull, a thin band of aurora danced vividly over the rain clouds.

In the lee of the summit I managed to take some few photographs while fighting with the gusts of wind and tiny raindrops that wet the lens. After just a few minutes, the sky was hidden behind the clouds again and the rain intensified. Even so, I was satisfied: I managed some pictures which I am quite happy about. Even after all those years in the Arctic, I am still thrilled about every single sighting of those wonderfully mysterious northern lights. For me, nature keeps on being an never-ending source of wonder and happiness - and that is, maybe, also for its uncomfortable weather! :-)

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