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Photos from the Arctic Circle

by Ellie Hopgood

As with my Seychelles photo post and the pictures from our visit to Snowdonia last year, I often look back and realise I shared so few pictures from a trip. I recently had that experience while I was looking over my photos from our trip up to Ivalo, in very northern Finland, which is past the magic line demarcating the Arctic Circle. We visited in January, only a few days after the sun had started to creep up above the skyline at all. Over the winter, Ivalo is bathed in darkness for all twenty-four hours of the day, while the summer sees a full day of light, including the midnight sun. Most of the scenery is untouched and remains home to reindeer, foxes, hares and other Arctic fauna.

While we were there, we were treated to perfect snow-covered trees, stretching for miles and miles, along with hours each day of constant sunrise and sunset pink light. When it was cloudy, everything was pure white, and when it was clear, everything was tinted blue. As soon as we ventured off the snowy paths, the powder became many feet deep, and felt like powdered sugar. It was cold, so cold, with temperatures reaching -35C in the evenings. My snot froze in my nose and my eyelashes were encrusted with ice. We drank hot soup in a kota to warm up after walking around in the peace and quiet, with only the sound of huskies barking somewhere in the distance filling the silence.

The wide expanses of empty space between the trees turn into lakes and swamps in the summer, but in January, it is a perfect sheet of snow. While I have visited snow-covered mountains before, they tend to have been taken over by ski resorts and chairlifts. I’d never been anywhere so wintry and so empty. It was so unlike anywhere I’d ever seen. I hope these photos reflect that.

The pink sky:

The blue glow of a clear day:

Bright white under the clouds:

The painted sky:

The full and super blood wolf moon:

Light illuminating the tips of the trees:

Saying goodbye:

The view from Ivalo Airport

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