Riisitunturi National Park is famous for its snow covered spruces. They are everywhere on this mountain and it’s a truly amazing sight. But the most amazing moment was when they, only for a brief moment, were also covered by the faint sunlight as it rose over the horizon. The sun would disappear behind the mountain just a few minutes later, never to be seen again this day.
I had wanted to visit Riisitunturi National Park for a long time. It’s located close to the Arctic Circle and close to the Russian border in the north east of Finland. It’s a region with few and small towns and lots of wilderness.
Then one day I found out about this somewhat crazy trip called “Kaamos Skiing”. Now kaamos is a Finnish word that means polar night. I love the word kaamos. It sounds cool and mystic and maybe even a little scary.
It’s the state of darkness when the sun doesn’t rise above the horizon at winter solstice. At the Arctic Circle kaamos is only one day long (at sea level). The further north from the Arctic Circle you go, the longer is kaamos. In the far north corner of Finland people don’t see the sun for almost two months.
Now this trip would go to go to Riisitunturi, which is just 35 kilometres (21 miles) south from the Arctic Circle. And it was going to happen two weeks after winter solstice, which means we would not experience any real kaamos when the sun doesn’t rise at all. But the sun would rise very late and set very early and we would have normal daylight for a very short time each day. And even then the sun would only just rise above the treetops.
The twilight colours could be seen on the sky for about two hours before sunrise and consequently for a couple of hours after sunset.
This is something that makes the arctic region very special. And the twilight looks a little different up there. I don’t know if it’s because of the cool air but the purple and pink colours are the trademark of the arctic midwinter light. It’s simply astonishing.
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