The light of January

Jouni Laaksonen 8.1.2018

January is one of the least hiked months in my calendar. This is usually the coldest time of year, daylight time is short and there’s no crust on snow. And also I seem to be always busy with my work in January.

But on the other hand I am strongly of the opinion that every month is a hiking month, definitively! Some months need more clothes and skills, but when you have them, and you’ve got the right, humble attitude, you can make memorable hikes even in the most challenging conditions.


The first time you see the northern lights, aurora borealis, in all of their glory, is something you will remember for the rest of your life. The most usual is to see some pale green waves across the sky, but sometimes the whole sky is ablaze with green, and also red and violet!

Day hiking is not difficult. You can choose a day when it is not extremely cold, and you will come back to the warmth of home in the evening.

One year ago, sharp, we had a free day with my wife. Our kids were at school and daycare, and we decided to head for a day hike off the ski tracks. We selected an area of old-growth forest in our home city, packed our long skis and rucksacks and drove to the forest.

Now, my home town, Kuhmo, is full of forests. We live outside the city center, in the middle of forest. But most of the forests of all Finland are managed, youngish forestry forests, which is totally different thing than old-growth, natural forest. I’ll return to this subject more in detail later, but now let’s put skis on our feet…

Temperature was something mild, like –5°C. My skis are 280 cm, and my wife has 250 cm long ones. With those we did not sink much, so the conditions were not hard at all.

The day was completely black and gray and white. No colors, no shadows. Thick layer of clouds, and light snowfall in addition. We had fun, the bogs and our selected forest were nice to see, but the light was not very photogenic.



Two pics of these not so photogenic light conditions…

When I was younger I headed every year on Christmas holidays to Lapland, for a week long ski tour in some wilderness area or another. For the first five years the light conditions were every time the same colorlessness.

But then, the sixth time showed me that this period of polar night can sometimes be very colorful! That time sky was cloudless – which means it was also extremely cold – and the sky was yellow and orange and flaming red in south, and pale red and pink in north. Above the sky was blue and underneath all the terrain pure white. The scale of colors was absolutely fantastic!



Upper pic is taken towards north, to the opposite direction of sun. Lower pic is taken towards south. The sun that never got above horizon is sinking farther down, but it still gives charming orange. BTW, the fence is a reindeer fence. It looks like it was built out of wood, doesn’t it? Nope, it is thin metal wire, with a thick snow cover.

And during evenings and nights there were wonderful displays of aurora borealis! The farther north you are, the more probable it is to see auroras – if there are no clouds.

If you are in Finland and would like to know if there are going to be aurora borealis next night, check

  1. Is it probable that there are auroras? See or similar
  2. Weather forecast: is it going to be cloudless? See or

This winter has been exceptionally cloudy. I don’t recall having seen the sun since September. 😦 But on the other hand there is lots and lots of snow, and the trees and landscapes are really beautiful.

* * *

(Next week I think I’ll ponder Everyman’s Rights.)

One thought on “The light of January

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