Spring farm fields near village of Scmicz - Schmitsch, Opole Voivodship, Poland

Hindera Family Origins in Schmitsch, Silesia – Smicz, Poland

Genealogy research into the Hindera, Lempka, Brinsa, Walczyk, Globisch, Pela, and Masur families originally from Smicz, Poland – Schmitsch, Silesia, Germany and settling in southeast Nebraska in the 1880’s – 1890’s.

This article is an update into my research, mainly of the Hindera surname.  A few years ago, I wrote a BLOG POST about my visit and viewing of the catholic church records in Smicz/Schmitsch, Poland.  What originally began as a confirmation of the birth of my GG grandfather – Albert Hindera, has now turned into a list of hundreds of names recording the historic residents of Smicz/Schmitch.


Spring farm fields near village of Scmicz - Schmitsch, Opole Voivodship, Poland

Photo: Green Silesian fields of Spring, near Smicz, Opole Voivodship, Poland


In 2011, during a drip to Poland, I made my first visit to the small town of Smicz/Schmitsch, located in the southern part of Opole Voivodship, about 10 miles north of the Czech Republic border.  Historically, the Opole (German Oppeln) was located on the eastern most edge of the historic region of Silesia (German Schlesien – Oberschlesien, Polish Śląsk, Silesian Ślůnsk) and formed a part of several of the major European empires as power waxed and waned over the centuries.  In 1742, Prussia was the last to obtain control of the region, which eventually became absorbed into the formation of the German empire in 1871.  German control remained in various forms until the end of WW2 in 1945, when most of Silesia was given to Poland.

My first visit to the Church in 2010 was brief, but I was able to confirm that I was on the correct path.  I have attempted several other visits to access the records in the last couple years, but the priest has always been hesitant to give further access.  Not willing to run into roadblocks, and after a bit of research, I visited the state historic archives in Opole, Poland in May 2013.  Fortunately, the archives have microfilm copies of all the regional church records, including Smicz/Schmitsch.  I was also allowed to photograph the records to take home and review later, as there was too much information to simply write down.  After several hours in the archives, I had discovered dozens of new names and began to form something beginning to look like a family tree.

Luckily, You do not need to go to Poland to access the records.  Thanks to a comment on my last blog post, it came to my attention that the records can be accessed via the Mormon church, more specifically, via their genealogy website: familysearch.org

Smicz – Schmitsch Microfilm at Familysearch.org

You can see which microfilms are available to order:

Smicz microfilm Part 1 (this is the main and most relevant archive)

Smicz microfilm Part 2

Taufen – Baptism/birth records
Heiraten – Marriage records
Tote – Death records

My Research

The legibility of the records varies greatly, from simple and easy to read to impossible.  Much of this depends on the handwriting used at the time, the early 1900’s are some of the hardest records to read due to writing style, while at other times the pages are old and the ink so blurred/faded, that barely a word can be discerned.

The style of recording the Birth/Baptism information changed over the years.  The older records, before about 1850, contain long paragraphs wherein the parents’ names are somewhere written, not always clear of Legible.  After about 1850, the records are kept in a much more legible, clear fashion.  There are also multiple switches between the use of birth or baptism as the key recording element: sometimes names are listed by actual birth date while other times baptism date is recorded and the birth date is contained somewhere within the text.

I have found spelling to be more consistent than expected, though there are some deviations from time to time and perhaps an ’s’ become a ‘z’ or a ‘Johanna’ becomes an ‘Anna.’   It is also important to remember that administratively, the regions was German, while the population itself would have been a mixture of German and Polish.  Many names are Germanized versions of Polish names, which seem to have more flexible spellings than the fully German names.

There is also an interesting period from about 1750 – 1780 where a feminine form of the surname was given to women (Male Hindera – Female Hinderin, Male Walczyk – Female Walczykin, Male Masur – Female Masurin, etc).  This also corresponded with a ‘Latinization’ of many of the given names: Jacobi (Jacob), Bernardus (Bernard), Georginus (George).  This was only a short period before names returned to their normal style.  I do not know why this change occurred, but it was shortly after Prussia gained control of the region, so perhaps there was some brief change in naming conventions?  It is also during this period that Hindera (and a few others) received a temporary spelling change: Hindera to Hÿndera.  I have tried to find the origins of the ‘ÿ’ character without success.

I have found it useful to compare both birth/baptism and marriage records at the same time, as they both contain important elements to put the overall puzzle together.  The accuracy problem arises in the fact that nearly everyone is named the same back then; thus you have fathers, sons, cousins, mothers, daughters etc., all having the same names over multiple generations and often several identically named persons per generation.  So I discovered early on that I had made a few mistakes just going by name and approximate age.  For example, there are 3 ‘Marianna Brinsa’ born within about 10 years of each other, and all would be about the correct child bearing age for who I was looking for.  Initially I found one that I assumed to be correct based on her birth.  But upon comparing the marriage record which contained the birth date, and knowing this would be the correct Marianna Brinsa – married to Franz Brinsa, the birth record I had previously found was off by 4 years, and thus the wrong Marianna.

I have ordered and reviewed many of the records, but not all yet, and compiled a rather large list of names and geanologies, taking the Hindera line back to the mid 1700’s.  The first document I have made is a huge archive of hundreds of names, and quite confusing at first.  I have more or less recorded any seemingly relevant name I have seen.  While many of the lines may be unconnected or irrelevant, as many of the people had the same names, it is necessary to know who to exclude at times.  The second document is strictly the Hindera (and any directly related) family.  There are still a few holes, but I have traced the various family lines as some moved to Nebraska and others stayed in Smicz.  I have Hindera descendants born in Smicz up to the early 1930’s.

Any internet searches show that Hindera is a relatively rare surname.  Checking a modern surname map for Poland, it occurs nearly exclusively in the Smicz/Schmitsch area, which would likely indicate that the name probably originates there at some point in history.  In comparison, the name is somewhat more widespread in Germany, but this would likely be the result of the aftermath of the German expulsion from Poland at the end of WW2, as some of Hinderas would have likely moved to Germany during this time.


Photo: Distribution of Hindera surname in Poland

Surname map for Poland – CLICK HERE 
Surname map for Germany – CLICK HERE 


View over spring farm fields towards village of Scmicz - Schmitsch, Opole Voivodship, Poland

Photo: Church tower of Smicz – Schmitsch rises in distance over fields, Opole Voivodship, Poland.

As I write this, I will be shortly returning to Smicz again in the middle of May (2014).  Along with another visit to Smicz, I am going planning on some exploration of other nearby villages to see if I happen upon any further information.  For example, the origins of the Lempka family appear to be in nearby Grabina/Grabine, but unlike the Hinderas, who still have descendants in Smicz, the Lempka family seems to have disappeared from the area completely after the families moved to Nebraska.  I would like to discover why.

If you would like to have a copy of my research, as well as some photos from Smicz, feel free to CONTACT ME and I will send you a copy.

Here is a brief listing of the direct family of Albert Hindera:

Paul Hindera – b. 30 June, 1799, Schmitsch (marriage record)
+ m. 28 Nov, 1828, Schmitsch – Age: 29, 24
Johanna Walczyk – b. 26 Dec. 1804, Schmistch

——Maria Hindera – b. 28 June, 1830, Schmitsch

——Franz Hindera – b. 11 Aug, 1832, Schmitsch
——+ m. 29 Sept, 1857, Schmitsch – Age 24, 23
——Marianna Brinsa – b. 1833/1834

——Rosalia Hindera – b. 4 Sept, 1840, Schmitsch
——+ m. 14 Jan, 1860, Schmitsch
——Anton Masur

——Thomas Hindera – b. 19 Dec, 1842, Schmitsch

——Catharina Hindera – b. 25 Nov, 1845, Schmitsch (marriage record)
——+ m. 26 Feb, 1867, Schmitsch – Age 23, 22
——Wilhelm Goreczka – b. 1843/1844, Ellgath (sp?) (marriage record)


Franz Hindera – b. 11 Aug, 1832, Schmitsch
+ m. 29 Sept, 1857, Schmitsch – Age 24, 23
Marianna Brinsa – b. 1833/1834

——Rosalia Hindera – b. 24 Aug, 1858, Schmitsch

——Marianna Hindera – b. 4 Aug, 1860, Schmitsch

——Albert Hindera – b. 5 June, 1862, Schmitsch
——+ m. 6 Oct, 1885, Nebraska
——Johanna (Anna) Lempka – b. 2 Jan, 1867, Schmitsch

——+ m. 30 Apr, 1894, Nebraska (Albert’s 2nd marriage)
——Mary Hintz

——Franz Hindera – b. 2 Aug, 1864, Schmitsch

——Felix HIndera – 2 Jan, 1867, Schmitsch

——Constantin Pius Hindera – b.10 Apr, 1869, Schmitsch

——Felicina Hindera – b. 7 June, 1871, Schmitsch
——Frank Weber

——Martha Hindera – b. 19 Feb, 1874, Schmitsch
——Florian Masur

——Johann Hindera – b. 31 May, 1876, Schmitsch
(Johann and John probably same person)
——John Hindera – b. May, 1877, Schmitsch (1900 Nebraska Census)
——Anna Hupka – b. 1890, Nebraska

——Franciszka Hindera – b. 30 Jan, 1882, Schmitsch
(Franciszka and Frances probably same person)
——Frances Hindera
——Joseph Lempka

Town hall and city center, Opole, Poland

Photo: Historic town hall of Opole, Poland.

Old buildings in rural village Scmicz - Schmitsch, Opole Voivodship, Poland

Photo: Smicz/Schmitsch, Opole Voivodship, Poland

Winter mountain landscape of Ladtjovagge valley viewed from near Kebnekaise Fjällstation, Lapland, Sweden

Swedish Interlude Part 2 – Kebnekaise Fjallstation

Winter mountain landscape of Ladtjovagge valley viewed from near Kebnekaise Fjällstation, Lapland, Sweden

Photo: Winter mountain landscape of Swedish Lapland, Kebnekaise Fjällstation, Sweden.  February 2014

…Continuing from PART 1

A steady snow was falling by the time the bus pulled into Kiruna late in the morning, the steep slag piles of the iron mine covered in hoarfrost and clouded in mist, resembling the White Wall out of Game of Thrones.  I made my way from the bus station to the hostel, only getting slightly lost and was informed check-in was not for a few hours, at least I could drop off my heavy bags.  I had a bit of scouting to do, namely to make sure if the sport shop had some Nordic touring skis available, as my girlfriend has actually never owned a pair of skis, much less touring ones.  After her arrival, and a hefty bill at the sports shop later, we were full prepared to head into the mountains.

I somewhat optimistically chose the Kungsleden trail as my first attempt for ski touring because, as I sold the idea to my girlfriend, ‘It’s mostly flat, without any big hills to ski up or down.’

More so, both of us had hiked the Route from Nikkaluokta to Abisko in September 2012, and I had hiked it previously in September 2009.  So, other than being mostly flat, it was also a route that I am familiar and comfortable with.  The only real challenge I perceived was weather and distance.  I optimistically put our chance of finishing at 50%.

The night at the hostel in Kiruna passed quickly and we were soon boarding the first bus of the 2014 winter season, heading to the trailhead at Nikkaluokta.  Arriving in Nikkaluokta a few hours later, the bus driver didn’t seem too concerned with collecting payment.  I asked in my bad Swedish if we needed to pay, but was informed that he had forgotten the change purse, the trip was free.  There were a couple other girls getting of the bus who were also traveling to Kebnekaise Fjällstation, the first STF run mountain hut along the trail, however, they didn’t look much prepared to ski the 19 km to get there.  After a bit of conversation, we learned that there is transport by snowmobile for the price of 300 SEK.  With only a few hours until darkness, doubtful enough time to get there, and having gotten the bus trip for free, we decided to spoil ourselves and be lazy.  The real journey could start tomorrow, and I knew this to be one of the more boring parts of the trail, just a long journey through the forest.

Snow mobile transport from Nikkaluokta to Kebnekaise Fjallstation

Photo: Snowmobile and Swedish winter mountain taxi, Nikkaluokta, Sweden.  February 2014

We geared up in thick winter overalls for the trip and were given a blanket to cover ourselves as we hopped onto a trailer pulled by the snowmobile. Then we were off, speeding down a path through the snow covered forest.  There apparently where a few thin spots in the ice, noted by sticks marking where not to go, as we crossed blank lakes and snaked up rivers.  About 45 minutes later we were pulling up to the Kebnekaise Fjällstation.  Snow was gently falling.

If I were 20 years old again, and Swedish, I think driving a snowmobile at one of the Swedish mountain huts would be the job for me!

We checked in as the first guests of the season and had the whole upper dorm to ourselves (no snoring). Kebnekaise Fjällstation is a full service mountain hut, but budgets forced us to decline the dinner and utilise what we were carrying.  Though most of the food is a bit fancy for my simple tastes anyhow, and I’m not sure I’d eat half of it if it were free, much less several hundred Swedish Kroner.  But a beer, warm fire, and, as we thought, one last wifi connection for the week, were thoroughly appreciated.  Snow was still falling as I headed up the stairs for bed.

The forecast had called for a couple days of calm before something of a storm would arrive.  As the world lightened with the arrival of day, I could still see a light snow still falling, nothing to worry about though.  But exiting the main lodge to head to the kitchen for breakfast, it was obvious the snow was deep.  Not ideal for for our first attempts at ski touring. And being the first ones of the season, this left me with the task of breaking 14km of trail through the knee/thigh deep powder.  Still, I remained optimistic as we set off.

Progress for me was slow, but steady, having proper ‘fat’ mountain touring skis and skins to keep me from sinking too much and make cutting turns, under the load of a backpack, on the downhills a bit easier.  For my girlfriend, with less than 1km ever skied on her skinny Nordic skis, the pace was tediously slow, even following in my tracks (which was more like slightly compressed snow than a proper touring track).  The downhills were even slower than the uphill sections for her, and touring was near impossible.  After more than an hour of travel, and barely more than 1km from the hut, it was decided to turn back.

Just at this time, a snowmobile passed by, cutting a nice trail.  But it turned to another part of the mountains and didn’t continue in the direction we needed.  We returned to the hut, disappointed.

We sat for a while, trying to decide what to do.  Having already bought 2000 SEK in hut vouchers (the mountain huts don’t accept credit cards anymore), I figured it would be best just to stay at Kebnekaise Fjällstation for a few more nights and at least get a little enjoyment out of the mountains before continuing on to Lofoten Islands again.

With the brilliant snow conditions, I wasted no time in skinning up a few hills and getting some turns in on the way back down.  If I wasn’t going to complete the tour, I still planned on enjoying myself.  This lasted for two days.  A storm arrived.

I’ve probably mentioned a dozen times in my last few posts that this was an unusually dry and warm winter for much of Scandinavia.  The storm arrived from the south.  Kebnekaise Fjällstation is somewhat sheltered from this direction, but I heard reports of broken windows and severe conditions in the other huts as they are situated in a series of north/south running valleys.  But with the wind came warm air and positive temperatures; in February!  There went my nice powder.

Tuesday morning it was time to leave the mountains.  We booked a return journey on the snowmobile back to Nikkaluokta and then planned on catching the bus back to Kiruna and continue by train to Narvik for the night.  Back in Nikkaluokta we had a couple hours to wait for the bus, but somewhere in the back of my mind, something was nagging me.  This led me to a little double checking of the schedule, where upon I was able to decipher that there is actually no bus on Tuesday.  This was confirmed by the shopkeeper.  Shit!  I could only sit there and laugh at my stupidity, as I contemplated having to return back to Kebnekaise Fjällstation again.

Luck was on our side though, as there randomly happen to be a Dutch couple and tour guide sitting in the cafe.  I wandered over to their table and explained the situation, and if we could maybe get a ride back to Kiruna.  I try to avoid putting people in such situations, where they might not want to say yes, but will look selfish if they say no and then have to finish their coffee with you staring at them.  But happily for us, they were quite nice and quickly offered to let us come along.  Skis were loaded into the van and off we went back towards civilisation.

We had a few hours to kill in Kiruna, so spent most of waiting in the warmth of the Folkets Hus – a much nicer place to wait than the bus station.  I actually thought there would be a bus to Narvik, but apparently it didn’t run on Tuesdays either, so we caught the free transfer shuttle to the new train station.  And there the wait began.

As much as I admire and will compliment the Scandinavians on nearly every aspect modern life, trains, at least in the north, are not their strong point.  Hour after hour passed, as the LED timetable board scheduled a new arrival time every 30 minutes or so.  Perhaps I should have picked up something for dinner in Kiruna?  Eventually, about 3 hours late, the train arrived and carried us west, back towards the Norway where I left little more than a week previously.  After the mandatory night in Narvik, although we arrived quite late, so I don’t begrudge the lack of onward transport options, we were on the morning bus back to the Lofoten Islands.  I wondered what new adventures would await.  (Mostly bad weather as it turned out…)

ski touring in deep snow near Kebnekaise Fjällstation, Lapland, Sweden

Photo: Struggling to ski through deep snow, Kungsleden trail, Sweden.  February 2014

Skis and snow in the Swedish Mountains

Photo: My ski getting ready for a run on some trackless powder, Kebnekaise Fjällstation, Sweden.  February 2014

Winter mountain landscape of Ladtjovagge valley viewed from near Kebnekaise Fjällstation, Lapland, Sweden

Photo: Scenic winter mountain landscape from near Kebnekaise Fjällstation, Sweden.  February 2014

Winter panoramic view of Ladtjovagge valley viewed from near Kebnekaise Fjällstation, Lappland, Sweden

Photo: Winter in the Swedish mountains near Kebnekaise Fjällstation, Sweden.  February 2014

Ice rift on frozen lake Torneträsk in winter, Abisko national park, Lapland, Sweden

Swedish Interlude Part 1 – Abisko

Ice rift on frozen lake Torneträsk in winter, Abisko national park, Lapland, Sweden

Photo: Winter on a frozen lake Torneträsk, Abisko national park, Sweden.  February 2014

Despite their close proximity, they touch each other, there is often some difficulty traveling between Sweden and Norway.  This experience becomes more pronounced the further north one travels.  So traveling from the Lofoten Islands, Norway, to Kiruna, Sweden becomes, unfortunately, a multi day affair when depending on public transport.  And these multiple days of travel often require a night in Narvik, Norway.

Sunday morning, the 16th of February, was the date of departure for my Australian companions of the last 10 days.  I needed to be in Kiruna, Sweden not too late in the afternoon of February 20th.  So I was left with a choice.  To go immediately to Sweden or not.

In my original planning, I had counted on staying on Lofoten until the morning of the 19, before then traveling on to Kiruna (via a night in Narvik).  But with my hopes of getting in a bit of time on my skis, and pretty much no snow on Lofoten at the time, I decided to head east a bit early and break up the journey for a few days in Abisko national park.  So early on Sunday morning I was dropped off at the bus station in Leknes and began my journey to Sweden.

By mid afternoon I was in Narvik.  Frustratingly close to Abisko, yet the last trains and busses of the day had already departed.  If Narvik has any redeeming charms, I have yet to discover them.  But perhaps this is only because I attempt to spend as little time as possible in the city.  I thought about camping the the forest, but soon decided a night in the hostel would be a better idea, the nights are long and cold in February, better to have some warmth.

The morning arrived soon enough and saw me on the train to Abisko, Sweden.  The fickle grip of this year’s winter finally began to strengthen as the train headed east along the fjords finally climbing into the mountains of the Norwegian/Swedish border.  The last villages in Norway are empty, lonely places in winter.  Katterat, Haugfjel, and Bjørnfjell, the last stops before reaching the Swedish winter resort town of Riksgränsen.  Though as the winter had been dry on Lofoten, it had also been warm here in the Swedish border mountains and the resorts were just beginning to open up for an unusually late start to the season.

It was under a gently falling snow that the train finally reached my destination, Abisko Turiststation, the STF run hostel/hotel is the center of tourism for Abisko national park.  Arriving on a Monday, and in the middle of February, I hadn’t thought about any needs of making a reservation.  So it was with great surprise, that upon heading to the reservation to get a dorm bed for the next three nights, I was informed I had gotten the last one!  I guess I could have always gone and set up my tent in the forest if needed.

Abisko has become something of a northern lights watching hotspot in the last couple years.  Having only previously been in the area in the, now to my understanding, relatively quiet period of autumn, I was unaware of how popular of an activity this was, with people from far and wide around the globe braving the cold in hopes of seeing those elusive green lights.  More importantly for me though, there was snow.  And as I turned out the light after a warm meal of spaghetti and (Swedish) meatballs, there was still a light snow falling from the sky.   Moments into my sleep, the phone beeped with the arrival of a text message from Lofoten: ‘Go outside!’

I looked out the window just in case, but I already knew the result.  While I was stuck under snowy skies in Sweden, the sky over Lofoten was filled with Auroras, where I should have been had I not chosen to leave a few days early.

Now if you’re not in Abisko specifically to see northern lights, it can still be a rather sleepless experience.  Despite the bad weather on most nights, the other 4 people I shared the room with were in and out all night long and random intervals; banging doors, leaving lights on, etc. I had been spoiled with some good northern lights on Lofoten in the previous weeks, so it would take something special for me to go stand around in the cold for hours to wait for something to appear, which they did briefly on my 3rd night, but not enough to see me outside.

I passed my days walking around the frozen lake Torneträsk, and though I knew the ice was thick, strong enough to hold a train, I was told, the constant creeks and moaning of the ice left me with an uncomfortable nagging in the back of my mind as I looked to the shoreline over 1 kilometre away.  A few other times I headed out into the forest on skis.  But for anyone having been to Abisko before, and knowing what beautiful landscapes hide behind those mountains to the south, the immediate Abisko area is a bit anticlimactic.  Soon it was time for the next part of my Journey.

Thursday morning, February 20th, I was standing on the road outside the hostel to catch the bus into Kiruna.  There, I would meet my girlfriend as she arrived from the UK later in the afternoon, before heading into the mountains at Nikkaluokta to begin the journey back to Abisko on skis along the Kungsleden Trail.  Or so was the plan.

Ice rift on frozen lake Torneträsk in winter, Abisko national park, Lapland, Sweden

Photo: Ice rift on lake Torneträsk in winter, Abisko national park, Sweden.  February 2014

Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis shine in sky over Olstind mountain peak and fjord near Reine, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Lofoten Islands February 2014 – Departure

Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis shine in sky over Olstind mountain peak and fjord near Reine, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Northern Lights fill the sky over Olstind, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

The sky was once again filled with clouds as evening came to Hamnøy.  We were mostly off to an early bed, Michael the only one remain up.  Sometime after I had drifted into to sleep I heard a knock at the door and Michael saying, ‘LIGHTS!’  Quicker than a fireman, I was back into my clothes and out the door.  Luckily, one of the benefits of staying at Eliassen Rorbuer is that you can more or less walk out the door and have a fantastic view across the fjord to Olstind.  It turns out we were somewhat late to the party though, as about 15-20 photographers and tripods were already lined up on the rocks.  During a lull in the aurora, Rod, Andrew and I (Michael was shooting a time-lapse), set off around the fjord to find some new compositions.  There is an abandoned Rorbu a little ways away that I have had my eye on for a northern lights image, so we went there and had aurora filling the sky for the next hour or so before once again returning into the night.

With a good weather forecast for Wednesday, Andrew and I made the decision to go camp out at Bunes beach for the night while the other two stayed behind.  I thought we would be alone, but somewhat unfortunately, a group of exchange students also joined us on the ferry, then proceeded to walk the length of the beach along the high tide line, leaving the otherwise unspoiled scene full of a thousand footprints before leaving to catch the afternoon ferry back to Reine.  So much for that.

The temperature was brisk, and a strong, blustery wind hampered any attempts of enjoying our evening campfire.  But with no snow, I could hardly call it winter camping.  Though in mid February, the beach is yet to receive any direct sunlight, so you’re left staring at the surrounding granite peaks and dreaming of the sun’s warmth.  Under clear skies we did our best to stay up into the night.  But in the cold and the wind and the darkness there is only so much willpower one has before the calling of a warm sleeping bag becomes overpowering.  So before 6:00pm my eyes were closing.  The trick though, is to set your alarm for every 30 minutes or so to keep an eye on the sky. After a couple hours Andrew woke me from outside my tent.  A green glow had appeared on the horizon.

It is a painful process to leave a warm sleeping bag, put on freezing clothes, and enter into the freezing night.  We walked to the beach, the sand frozen solid, making progress easier.  With the crashing waves at out feet we watched the sky, but it had now grown silent.  The wind was stronger now, and colder.  After sometime standing around, the sky remaining quite, a warm sleeping bag seemed like a nice alternative.  By the light of our headlamps and the glow of the moon we returned to our silent camp.

Returning back to Hamnøy the following morning, I spent the day lounging around and enjoying the warmth or the Rorbu while the others braved the bad weather in search of photos.

A couple more stormy days followed before it was soon time for the Australians to head home and for me to head east.  It was a cold Sunday morning that I was dropped off at the bus stop (that is being generous) in Leknes, destination Sweden, and snow.

Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis shine in sky over abandoned Rorbu cabin, Valen, near Reine, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Northern lights rise in sky above abandoned rorbu, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Tent pitched below Helvetestind mountain peak at Bunes beach, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Camping below Helvetestind at Bunes beach, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Mountains rise in distace over Bunes beach, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Evening light over Bunes beach, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Boat sheds and mountains reflection on Selfjord in winter, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Calm reflection of Selfjord, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Waves crash against rocky coastline at Skagsanden beach, Flakstad, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Waves crash against the rocks at Skagsanden beach, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Silhouette shapes of empty cod drying racks at sunrise, Toppøy, near Reine, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Sunrise beyond empty stockfish drying racks, Toppøy, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Waves wash over coastal rocks at Uttakleiv beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Lofoten Islands February 2014 – Arrival Of The Aussies

Frozen sea ice along winter coastline, near Nedredal, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Ice formations on the coast of Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

After the previous night’s sunset at Å, I was hoping for one last view of Reine in the morning, but alas, I rose to a heavy mist falling from the sky.  It was now Friday, February 7th, I had been on the island for a week.  A bit ahead of schedule, perhaps because I could feel the pull of a warm shower, I began my journey back to Stamsund to meet with the Australians.  We didn’t have any firm plans of meeting, just ‘sometime after lunch,’ as abstract of a term as that can be.  But with the day starting as it was, I figured they wouldn’t be getting out of the car much either.

No one was around when I arrived, and I’m not even sure if Roar was expecting me or not, but I called and announced my arrival and was given directions to our accommodations for the next days.  Opening the door to the cabin, I was greeted by a rush of warm air, something I hadn’t felt for days – I’m not sure my fleece or long underwear came off at all during the previous week.  A bit gross, I know, but that’s the way it is; you don’t have to worry about how bad you smell when you’re alone.

Soon however, a car, packed to the brim with three Australians – Rod, Michael, and Andrew – and accompanying luggage and camera gear pulled up outside.  You might remember that I traveled on Lofoten with Rod Thomas last year in the spring.  Now he and a couple friends were back for the winter experience, although the winter thus far was proving to have less snow than last year’s spring.  So it goes on Lofoten.  Michael Fletcher is a film maker and was there for a bit of behind the scenes documenting the trip, while Andrew Cooney, at just 18 years old, is a fellow landscape photographer looking for a bit of adventure in the north.

Not sitting around to waste any time in the short arctic days of winter, and with the weather seeming to improve a bit, the car was unpacked of unnecessary luggage and re-packed with people and cameras to hit the road.

Other than the popular beaches of Utakleiv, Haukland, Unstad, and Eggum, much of the central Lofoten island of Vestvågøy is often ‘drive through’ country for most photographers, as they move between bases at Svolvær in the east and Reine in the west.  I’m not sure why this is, probably because there are fewer roadside attractions than the other islands, especially Moskenesøy, where you barely need to walk more than a few meters from the car for something scenic. Vestvågøy requires more use of your legs to fully explore it’s character, but this doesn’t mean there are not some seldom photographed scenes that do make an appearance from time to time, and it’s actually my favourite island for Autumn.  In winter however, there is the difficulty of the sun.  Or more exactly, where the sun is.

The light of the winter months on Lofoten is very southernly directed, rising a bit to the southeast and setting a bit to the southwest.  And south means the open waters of the Vestfjord and, to put it bluntly, often not as scenic of a coastline as the northern side of the islands.  Of course there is Reine and Olstind, but to attempt to pull out a variety of images for multiple locations can be difficult at times with the sun low on the horizon and many areas receiving no direct sunlight.  This, combined with the often heavy cloud, means there are a limited number of locations where one can attempt, with an interesting composition, to photograph direct light.

We headed east from Stamsund, along the coastal route to Valberg and beyond.  In normal winters, where the islands are covered in snow from sea to summit, almost everything can be scenic here.  This year however, with the lower elevations mostly consisting of the drab, soggy brown grasses and heather of winter, it took a bit more effort to find something interesting.  So with little snow, ice is the next best thing.

I took us to the area around Dal, where there can be some interesting bog and moorland that sometimes freezes nicely.  But upon arrival, the ponds weren’t so interesting, but the ice covered coastal shallows, with some scenic views towards Vågakallen in the distance, were.  The sky didn’t do too much, but I found the ice textures to be fascinating.  Soon we were back at the hostel and I was enjoying my first proper dinner in days.

Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis shine in sky over frozen ice river and mountain landscape, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Northern lights shine in the mountains of Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis shine in sky over frozen ice river and mountain landscape, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Northern Lights and frozen river on Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

What had been a non-eventful, and cloudy, sunset turned into clear skies as the evening progressed.  We headed out into the darkness and began the wait for Auroras.  A little after 9:00pm, they began to appear, though mostly quite faint.   We first headed to Myrland beach, as it gives a nice overview of the northern sky, with some scenery for the foreground.  But the lights quickly faded after our arrival so we headed back to Storsandnes beach to see if things would be better.

This was the near the location of the ice rivers which I had photographed a few days earlier, and wondered if it would make a good compositions for northern lights, should I get the chance.  So with the Aurora there, but not overly active, I headed up the hill with Andrew to see what I could come up with.  Nothing spectacular as it turns out, mostly because the sky began to cloud over again.  But I saw potential for the future with better conditions.  It was nearly 2:00am when we pulled back into Stamsund.  Luckily I had enough sleep reserves from the previous week already built up!

Saturday was grey and mostly uneventful.

Reflection of Vågakallen mountain peak over coastline, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Vågakallen reflection, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Frozen sea ice along winter coastline, near Nedredal, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Coastal ice formations, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Dusting of snow covers sand at Uttakleiv beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: A dusting of snow covers the sand at Utakleiv beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Waves wash over coastal rocks at Uttakleiv beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Among the waves at Utakleiv beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Walking out the door early Sunday morning just as the horizon was beginning to glow, I noticed and unexpected dusting of snow had fallen overnight, cool!  We first headed out to the coast at Dal again to see if any color would appear.  But what looked to have strong potential soon faded to a deep bluegray.  With the rare snow on the ground, I thought it best to get to one of the beaches as soon as possible, before the snow was washed away by the incoming tide or filled with footprints by other photographers or locals on their Sunday walks.

We headed towards Utakleiv, as that would provide up with the most options.  Passing Vik beach, it was full of seaweed and the tide was already receding from the snow line.  Haukland was full of people and dogs.  This left Utakleiv.  Exiting the tunnel, I could see there were no cars in the parking area, and pulling up, the beach, and faint layer of snow, where largely untouched.  Perfect!

It was well into the afternoon that some color began to appear in the western sky.  So we did the obvious thing, headed west.  This turned into one of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen on Lofoten.  Though unfortunately I don’t think I took us to the correct place to fully enjoy it.  We first attempted a location near Fredvang, but the tide was wrong, and it was a bit windy so we headed back to Skagsanden beach, with the sky and mountains fully aglow with bright pink and orange.  I was content with the day, but I felt the other guys were a bit disappointed that I hadn’t taken them to a more spectacular location.  Soon the light was gone and it was back to Stamsund.

The islands were dry, no rain and barely any snow, yet a layer of cloud was still nearly always present.  Monday was spent at Unstad beach before our final night in Stamsund.

Tuesday brought some interesting light at Henningsvær, but this soon turned back to the usual grey.  We didn’t have much time to waste anyways, as it was time to change locations and head to our new accommodation on Hamnøy for the next few nights.

Colorful sunset over mountains of Moskenesøy, near Fredvang, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Color fills the sky over Selfjord, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Hustind mountain peak glows pink over Skagsanden beach, Flakstad, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Skagsanden beach glows pink during sunset, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Waves flow among boulders at scenic Unstad beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: The ever-scenic Unstad beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Mountain reflection in Harbour at scenic fishing village of Henningsvær, Austvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Harbor reflection at Henningsvær, Austvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Winter sunrise over Vestfjord from Toppøya, near Reine, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Lofoten Islands February 2014 – Time Passes Slowly

Unstad beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Barely any signs of winter remain after 24 hours of rain, Unstad beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Morning was slow to come.  After midnight had gone, time seemed to come to a standstill.  And though it seemed like hours had passed between looking at my watch, it was only minutes.  02:00 am, 03:00 am, 04:00 am; still 4 hours until dawn appeared.  The storm was calming now, but I knew I wouldn’t have much of interest to look forward to come first light, only a reason not to be laying down in my sleeping bag.

A few more hours passed until I could finally see a heavy, misty grey dawn appearing over the beach.  I dressed and wandered down to the empty sands of Unstad beach.  The fury of yesterdays storm had passed and barely a hint of breeze blew against my face.

Sometime later I returned to my car for breakfast: an orange, some rice cakes, and chocolate, for the cold.  I sat for a while, waiting to see if any colour would appear.  But after sunrise had passed, I was gone.

I could tell it was going to be one of those days of soft, flat light.  I visited a few beaches and wandered around some hills, following an ice river up into the mountains.  And so the hours passed as I made my way west to Flakstadøy, where I noticed a bit of color beginning to appear.  Not much, but something other than grey.

A small river runs through the sand at Storsandnes beach, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: A river runs through Storsandnes beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Mountains of Moskenesøy rise above sea at sunset, near Fredvang, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Misty light over the distant mountains of Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Coastal landscape at Trollskjeran, near Ramberg, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Fading light along the coast near Ramberg, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Looking for a place to camp, I headed down a small dirt road on the outskirts of Ramberg which took me out to the coast.  I noticed a good supply of wood which I thought could be turned into a decent campfire for the night and so I messaged my Italian friends to see if they wanted to join me.  A little while later they showed up and we set to making a fire.  Though it turns out I was slightly optimistic in my estimates of the wood, which was either too small and burned quickly, or too old and rotten, barely burning at all.  But at least it was a mild night, for February, so it wash’t too bad to sit around and have some light in the darkness, even if the heat was lacking.  Not to mention, it was a good excuse not to go to sleep in mid afternoon.

I was wanting to shoot something around Flakstad for sunrise, but pulling my car out onto the E10 and a quick survey of Skagsanden beach, it was evident that another grey day was in store for the islands.  So I headed further west, and back towards Reine, where I would have a direct view of the sun rising on the horizon.

I got stopped by the road works that have been going on for what seems like forever on the eastern part of Moskenesøy.  Originally what started out as just a new tunnel had turned more or less into a whole new road, tediously blasted, dug, and scraped into the rock. So there I sat, watching dawn approach over the Vestfjord and not knowing how long I would be stuck.  I even gave though to hopping out of the car and just shooting on the side of the road, but figured it might not be the best idea.  Time to sit and eat breakfast I guess, rice cakes and chocolate, for the cold.

Finally, after 20 plus minutes I was let free and on my way west again.  Dawn was near as pink began to fill the sky in the small gap along the horizon and into the ceiling of low clouds overhead.  Nearing Hamnøy I figured the sun would rise any minute and so I got out of the car and looked around.

I was hoping for a nice pink glow on Olstind, rising across the still waters of the fjord, but the horizon seemed to be a bit cloudy, and only a faint light reached the mountain.  Looking back over the Vestfjord as the sun cracked the horizon was about the only thing of interest, though not especially so from my vantage point.

Soon the sun was back in the clouds and I was counting the hours until darkness, where I could attempt to sleep again, to pass the time quicker.  I parked my car in the turnout by Djupfjord and began the wait.

Winter sunrise over Vestfjord from Toppøya, near Reine, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Winter sunrise over Vestfjord, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Rocky coastline of Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Rocky coastline of Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Morning arrived with more low, misty clouds, but I could tell a bit of a change from the last few days would happen.  I mostly stuck around Reine and Å, waiting for the hours to pass.  I could see winter storms passing over the mainland in the distance, but for some reason none arrived on Lofoten.  In late afternoon I headed out to Å and by chance ran into some German acquaintances.  Lofoten can be a small place sometimes.

A final kiss of pink in the sky over Værøy and the day was soon gone.  My first week on the islands was now over.  In the morning, I would head back to Stamsund, where I would meet up with the Australians and be their unofficial Lofoten tour guide for the next 10 days.

Approaching winter storm conceals Norwegian mainland across Vestfjord, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Winter storms pass over Vestfjord, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Pink clouds at sunset over Værøy islands from near Å I Lofoten, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway
Photo: A kiss of pink over Værøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Waves wash over snow covered rock in winter at Myrland beach, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Lofoten Islands February 2014 – Lessons In Sleep

Waves wash over snow covered sand in winter at Myrland beach, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Waves wash across snow covered beach at Myrland, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

February mornings are slow to arrive on Lofoten, so even if you’ve been up late chasing northern lights the night before, there is still plenty of time for a bit of sleep.  In fact, there is often too much time for sleep, as darkness is still the dominant element of the season.

Stirring uncomfortably for hours due to the combined effects of cold and the lack of a sleeping pad to soften the otherwise hard trunk of my rental car, I dreamed of dawn as the batteries faded in my iPod as I repeated the same podcast to pass away the time.  Looking at my watch, I decided it was time to rise, 07:00.

I exited the back of the car into a world of night, snow swirling brightly in my headlamp as I quickly hurried to the softness of the drivers seat and started the car.  I was expecting to see the beginnings of day appear on the horizon but the only thing to escape the blackness was the snow lit by the car’s headlights.

Doing my best to judge the wind direction, I left Utakleiv and headed towards somewhere which might be a bit more sheltered.  It’s always windy in Utakleiv anyways, even on calm days.  The squeak of the wiper blades were the only break in the silence as I traveled the dark, snowy roads to Myrland, on the eastern edge of Flakstadøy.  With a couple of seldom visited beaches, compared to the more famous neighbours visible across the Nappstraumen, Myrland has been a productive location for me in the last couple years, almost too visited.

Waves wash over snow covered rock in winter at Myrland beach, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Waves flow against snow covered rock at Myrland beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

I parked my car overlooking the sea, only barely visible through the snow and grey light which signalled the arrival of morning.  It was Sunday morning, and I had nowhere to go, only to wait in darkness and see what would happen.

Now, this is normally the time when having a book would be useful to pass the time.  But as I had been somewhat busy back in California prior to my departure to Lofoten, I didn’t have the time to procure any.  Or to say more accurately, it didn’t seem like much of a priority.  Maybe I was making a statement to the universe that the light would be so good that I wouldn’t have anytime for reading, or perhaps I simply forgot what being alone and bored was like.  Anyhow, I would soon regret this decision, though not so much as to buy an over-priced book in Norway; not much of an English reading selection on Lofoten anyways that could entice $30 from my wallet for an day’s entertainment.  To add even more to my first world problems, I hadn’t even brought my laptop with me to at least get some writing done as my ambitious plans for Sweden didn’t allow for the extra weight.

If you’ve previously read about any of my Lofoten travels it might seem like I’m poor at planning and haphazardly stumble around the islands.  But this is actually a well thought out plan to keep me productive as possible.  You see, my greatest enemy is laziness.  And comfort brings laziness.  If you have a warm fire, hot food, and a soft bed, the weather is almost always ‘too bad to go outside,’ or ‘it will be better later.’  But it turns out that ‘later’ never comes.

Stuck in a car for 24 hours, outside becomes an escape from boredom.  And outside is where the photos are.  So even with poor light and casting winds, boredom leads my mind to thoughts like, ‘Hmm, I wonder what might be up that hill,’ or ‘those rocks look sort of interesting, I wonder if I can come up with something.’  So really, every shot I take might not be jaw dropping colorful (over processed) sunsets, and I probably even take a fair amount of bad photos, but the short days of winter tend to be the most productive for me, since i have no comfort to escape to.  Though I often do allow myself a berlinerbolle for breakfast every day or two to have a little bit of comfort.  Ample supplies of chocolate help as well.

After some time the storm begins to pass and the sky continues to lighten.  I look down to the sea and see what I’m looking for in the soft light as the small waves meet the snow covered beach.  I pull out my gear and get to work for the next hour until a flat grey light has enveloped the islands.  With northern lights the previous night, and now scenic snow covered beaches, I thought I was off to a pretty good start for winter on Lofoten.

Before I left California a few people had gotten in contact with me who would also be traveling on Lofoten around the same time as myself.  As morning passed, I got in contact with a nice italian couple, who like myself, were also doing the car-camping thing and made plans to maybe try and meet up somewhere down by Reine or Å.  So off I headed, west along the E10 towards Moskenesøy.

Passing Reine, the light wasn’t so nice so I continued on towards the town with a name that everyone always seems to have trouble pronouncing, Å.  Perhaps also one of the shortest town names existing anywhere.

Å I Lofoten, the formal name to distinguish it from any other Ås which might exist, can often be a good place for winter sunset, as the afternoon sun passes low over the distant island of Værøy rising across the sea before meeting with the final mountains of Lofoten itself.  January to early February is one of the best times for this location, before the sun begins to set too high in the west as the vernal equinox begins to near and the days grow long.

Well, it turns out, the light down there wasn’t so good either and there wasn’t much snow out on the rocks which is really needed for the scene.  On the other hand, was a frozen lake Ågvatnet, with cool patters of light snow drifting across the surface, blown across the ice since the passing of the morning’s storm.  The more interesting patterns and shapes were deep in the center of the lake and I was somewhat hesitant to venture alone that far onto the ice.  But upon seeing a few locals walking and ice skating around, I figured a frozen death wouldn’t likely come on this day and proceeded out onto the lake, soft rays of sunlight hitting the surrounding mountain peaks.

Patterns of snow cover black ice of Lake Ågvatnet in winter, Å I Lofoten, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Snow patterns on a frozen lake Ågvatnet, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Patterns of snow cover black ice of Lake Ågvatnet in winter, Å I Lofoten, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Snow patterns on a frozen lake Ågvatnet, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

A little while later I headed into Reine where I met up with my new Italian friends, before deciding to head back to Å again.  Once more, it didn’t look like the light would do much for sunset, so we headed out onto the lake again until night arrived.

The one benefit of the dry and snow free conditions this year was that all the parking areas where clear and open.  Often it can be a bit of a challenge to find a snow free area to sleep in the car overnight, particularly in the western part of the islands and often I’m left parking under the bright lights of the parking lot in Å, which you’re technically not supposed to camp in, but that’s more so it doesn’t fill up with motorhomes all summer long, or so I tell myself.  This time though, the nice turnout near the Djupfjord bridge was open, and despite being right next to the road, is about the best place to sleep between Å and Reine.

Cod Stockfish hang to dry in cold winter air, Toppøya, Reine, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Stockfish drying racks, near Reine, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Cod Stockfish hang to dry in cold winter air, Toppøya, Reine, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Sunrise and rain fill the sky, near Reine, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Morning brought with it a cold wind and a promise of rain.  It was now Monday, and my second full day on the islands.  Again, despite laying flat in the back of the car for 12+ hours, a combination of discomfort and jet lag served me with a restless sleep and I was once again glad to be back in the driver’s seat awaiting the arrival of another day.

I headed to a location near Reine and watched as the approaching rain and rising sun raced to see who would greet me first.  It was a tie.  Heavy drops of rain began to hit me just as the sun peaked over the jagged, teeth-like mountains of the Norwegian mainland and shone across the waters of the Vestfjord.  A flash of pink lit the sky for a couple brief minutes as I retreated to shelter, only to be drawn back into to rain moments later and as a rainbow briefly encircled Olstind.  Back at my car, I said goodbye to the italians and headed back east to Leknes.

Rainbow forms over Olstind mountain peak and Fjord, Reine, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Rainbow over Olstind, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

The rain was still falling as I pulled up to Leknes.  My main objective was to find a sleeping mat for the back of the car, unsure how many more nights on the hard, cold floorboards I could take.  Sometimes the large Coop supermarket in the mall has something cheap on offer, and last year I even pickup a proper blow up mattress that one would use as a guess bed at home for only 99 NOK.  It looked a bit funny in the back of the car, but it slept like a dream.  This time, no luck (though I did see one later at the end of February, when I no longer needed to sleep in a car).  The closest things was some exercise type yoga mat for 120 NOK.  I guess that would have to do.

The rain was still falling as morning passed to afternoon and I made my way out to Unstad.  Arriving at the beach, the wind was blowing fiercely and huge clouds of mist were blowing off the sea.  I made my way down to the waters edge but at times it was nearly impossible to stand as gusts of wind blew loose my footing on the slippery rocks.  I haphazardly cut and taped a plastic bag around my camera to protect it from the driving rain and hale.  My hands near frozen, I lost grip on one of my lens caps and it went flying off somewhere far beyond my reach.  After a few moment, I figured I’d had enough and retreated to the car.

I wanted to park my car on the left side of the beach, but in the blowing winds it was rocking like a boat at sea and I wasn’t too sure it would remain in the same place all night long so I opted for the more sheltered parking area at the right side of the beach.  After making myself a sandwich for lunch, I curled up in my sleeping bag to keep warm.  It was just after 14:00.

I next opened my eyes to find night had arrived.  Looking at my watch, it was 20:00.  The rain was still falling at the wind ever blow, but now with a slightly calmer temperament.  I turns out I had parked my car in the light of a newly installed street light, so I moved to car into the shadow cast by the old building, then was back into my sleeping bag.  Twelve more hours until daybreak and I’d already had the better part of a night’s sleep.  I thought of what the distant morning might bring.

Offshore wind blows waves at Unstad beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Winds blow over waves at Unstad beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis shine in Sky over Vik Beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Lofoten Islands February 2014 – Aurora Greetings

Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis shine in Sky over Uttakleiv beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Northern Lights fill sky over Utakleiv beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

The journeys from California to Lofoten are always long, and I always arrive thinking of the soonest possibility I can lie down flat on a bed, or in this case, the back of my rental car.  I also made the mistake of arriving on the islands on a Saturday, which is never a good idea, as it meant a long wait in Leknes for my bus to Stamsund, where I would pick up my car.  Normally I would hitchhike, but this time I was burdened with ski gear which would no doubt ruin any chance I had of catching a lift.

It was finally the early afternoon when I pulled up to the parking area at Utakleiv beach, folded down the backs seats to the car and crawled into my sleeping bag.  Early afternoon on February 1st while north of the arctic circle means it’s just about dark.  I was soon asleep.

Some hours later the slamming of a car door followed by some somewhat loud voices woke me from my slumber.  It was dark.  I wiped a clear spot from the fogged up windows to see if the stars were out, in which case I would try and stay up a bit longer and wait for Northern Lighs.  But upon peaking out the window was a gift even better, Auroras!  A faint green arch hanging over the beach and mountains.  I quickly dressed, prepared myself for the cold, then hopped out of the car and went down to the beach, the lights now getting brighter.

I shot for a while at the beach, but I noticed the stronger parts seemed to be coming from behind the mountains to the left, so I quickly headed back to the car and drove a few km to the beach at Vik, more of less just around the corner from Utakleiv, and giving a much more open view to the western part of the sky.

Barely have put my camera back on the tripod the sky lit up, from the horizon, fully overhead, and then behind me.  Not a bad welcome to Lofoten!

Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis shine in Sky over Uttakleiv beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Northern Lights shine in sky over Utakleiv beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014


Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis shine in Sky over Vik Beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Auroa beam over Vik beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014


Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis shine in Sky over Vik Beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Northern Lights over Vik beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014


Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis shine in Sky,  Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Cascading Auroras fill night sky over Utakleiv beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014


Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis shine in Sky over Vik Beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Northern Lights rise in sky over Vik beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014