We rose early for what we anticipated would be a hard day, riding to only 6 km short of Nordkapp but parking our bikes for the walk to Knivskjellodden, slightly north of the Cape and recognised as the true most northerly point in Europe. It was a straightforward hike though the path was rocky and we had only lightweight footwear. We met a backpacker from Chicago making his way back after wild camping at Knivskjellodden, he’d been hoping for an aurora but had been clouded out.
We signed the book at the end and walked back, during which the clouds cleared and the sun saturated the autumn shades. As it dropped, so did the temperature and the ride back seemed much harder than yesterday, we’d had a long walk rather than yesterday’s cake in the café.
I’d squeezed a tripod, full frame dslr and wide angle lens into my bike luggage, cycled almost 1000 km in northern Norway and the tripod was deadweight up every hill. We’d completed our mission with a 40 km bike and 18 km hike to the most northerly point of Europe, apart from a strong aurora sighting and photograph. I’d concluded that long active days were incompatible with aurora photography, we needed a good sleep at night.
In the evening, we were sitting in the campsite kitchen/dining room when a Canadian woman came up for a chat, welcome for the first five minutes but she wouldn’t stop talking, about where she’d been, where she wanted to go, how fantastic Canada is, where we should go in Canada, on and on and on. Looking for an escape without appearing rude, I remembered our towels were still drying on the line, stepped outside and saw some minor activity in the sky.
By the time I’d switched lenses and set up camera and tripod, a fantastic display was under way. At such a high latitude, the entire sky can be involved. Above the campsite was a shimmering shape-shifting curtain of light, behind me, a vast low green arc like a squashed green rainbow while ribbons of green light coalesced, dissolved and moved around. Looking behind again, the green arc had by now morphed into dancing columns of light. My wide angle lens could catch only a small amount of the action at any time, there was so much going on. Peak activity lasted about 30-40 minutes. Absolutely magical, the perfect end.
But it was still only Sunday, the unexpectedly calm and mainly dry weather meant we’d used only one of our spare days, the day before we actually started riding, our flight didn’t leave until Wednesday afternoon.
Distance cycled: 40 km (Plus 18 km hike)