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The Ice Was Cracking under My Feet

This experience went deeper than seeing the Northern Lights normally do. What I saw was wonderful. But what I heard was amazing! Here’s the story of an extraordinary night on the ice.

Me standing on the ice and watching the Northern Lights dancing
What a blessing to be able to see this.

The three day aurora forecast gave a tiny hint that something could happen but the data in my aurora app did not suggest any activity at all. I went to a friend's house to spend half the evening outdoors and the second half in the sauna. This was on February 26 2020.

I arrived at 8 PM and we took a kicksled each and headed out on the ice. (Click to see our location.) It was –10 degrees Celsius and no wind. Kicksledding on the ice, with hardly any snow on it, was a joy! You kick once and glide easily 10 meters. The ice was thick in the inlet where we started, but we stayed close to the shoreline and kept observant for cracks.

Me and my friend with kicksleds on the ice
Kicksledding on the ice is fun!

The sky was filled with stars and it was astonishingly beautiful. Venus and the moon were close to each other. The moon, being only a narrow line, was just setting and I managed to get a few photos of it before it disappeared.

The moon and Venus reflecting in the ice
Venus and the moon were close to each other but the moon set as we headed out on the ice.

Suddenly we ran onto thin ice, flooded with water. We had reached a crack in the ice and had to stop. I took a few shots and saw a faint green light on my photos, not visible to the naked eye. Maybe the Northern Lights would appear despite the low Kp index. It happens.

Northern Lights starting to appear over the ice and some rocks
Rocks and a crack in the ice. It was too dark to see the crack but the camera collects light and makes it visible. That's why you can see a hint of the Northern Lights in the photo although it was not visible to the naked eye.

We turned around and went in the opposite direction when the aurora became stronger, now clearly visible. Of course I had to stop and take more photos. It continued to increase in strength and started moving. I took photo after photo of it.

Aurora Borealis over the frozen sea
The aurora line suddenly became stronger and clearly visible.

Northern Lights, Aurora Borealis, reflecting in the ice
In a few minutes the Northern Lights increased in strength and started moving. “Dancing” is a good word for it, often used by aurora hunters.

Man standing on the ice and watching the Northern Lights
My friend enjoying the show. Even to him—an outdoor person—it was a rare experience.

We continued over the ice to some rocks where we enjoyed the rest of the show. The whole situation was very unique. What made it so special was the sound! No, not the sound of the aurora which can’t be heard at all. It was the ice that gave the most amazing concert. It’s the sound of cracks appearing when the ice is growing thicker or when the water level under it changes. The ice does not break into pieces but creates a pattern of lines.

The sound is very hard to describe. Sometimes it sounds like when you hit a tight steel wire and sometimes the sound reminds of thunder. Check this awesome video by Jonna Jinton to get an idea how it sounds.

We could feel the ice vibrating every now and then. It was a little frightening but not dangerous. Very cool feeling.

I have seen the Northern Lights many times but this time the combination of kick sledding on the ice and these sounds made it extraordinary. It was truly a “Best of Nature in Winter” show that night!

My friend, who is an outdoor person, had actually not seen the Northern Lights like this before. That says something about how little attention people here in Finland pay to this unique phenomenon. But I think another reason is that very few Finns follow the aurora forecasts so the aurora most often pass unnoticed.

Two men with kicksleds standing on a rock and watching the Aurora Borealis reflecting in the ice
Silently watching the show and listening to the sounds that the ice made.

After 30 minutes the aurora started fading and we headed back to my friend’s house to enjoy the hot sauna. What a perfect way to end a perfect evening!

A high quality print of a photo taken this night is now available in my webshop. Now you know the story about it, why not put it on your wall?


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