December 19, 2015
The sky is a little clearer than it was yesterday. Today’s tour has not been cancelled and we take hope from that. It’s a six hour trip. Arctic Guide Services is going to be drive an hour and a half or so outside Tromso, and from there we start our chase. Our guide sets all of us to the task of looking out for stars. Our first spot was occupied by a rival tour, so we drive a little further. We get out of the bus and fumble to set our cameras on our tripods and get our settings right in the cold dark night. Our guide is very particular that we use headlamps and torches discreetly and sparingly so as to cause minimum light pollution. Lesson learnt, step into the bus to set up. Ofcourse no one wants to do that and miss even a second of the celestial spectacle we were all looking forward to. Alas, there was naught to be seen. We drive further. There is a tour at our next spot as well, but these are a sister tour so we join them.
This time we have wisely set up our cameras inside the bus. I never took mine off when we got back in at the last stop. The parking lot is slick with ice. Our guide advises us to take penguin steps, so we shuffle along till we reach the snow. As I try to make my way down the little slope, camera, tripod, et all, RP shouts, “I saw it. I saw it. There is is.” I scan the skies but see little more than a hopeless smudge. Everyone starts clicking furiously. Few are lucky enough to capture it. From here we drive further north and stop close to the Finnish border. Our guide leads us down a small path cleared through thigh high snow. It is pitch dark and impossible to see without her headlamp. Her co-guide is leading the way and is a good 50 meters or so ahead of the group. He suddenly stops and hollers out to her. He thinks he’s seen an arctic fox. Before anyone else could catch up, the owner of the eyes he had seen shining in the snow had vanished, preferring to observe us hidden.
We hung around and scanned the skies. We couldn’t see any lights with our naked eyes, but amazingly a smudge showed up in one of my pictures. It wasn’t even a picture I was taking of the sky. I was taking a picture of the husband and RP taking pictures and they got photobombed.
We were the last to get back to the bus. Our guide was handing out cookies and hot chocolate. On realizing he had dropped a glove, the husband and RP went back into the dark to look for it and surprisingly found it. It’s time to head back. It’s heartbreaking to have come all this way and not seeing the Aurora Borealis in all it’s glory. From the little that we could catch, it seems like the lights had put on quite a show but it was not in our luck to see it. Even so, we did get a glimpse and a picture not just of the lights but with the lights. It is an experience to be cherished.