Arctic nights, magic nights
Located at 70°44' N, Kap Høegh / Ukaleqarteq is immersed in the "polar day" for two and a half months each year, between May 14 and July 30. And when the clouds aren't there (or not too much), the lights of the "midnight sun" can be extraordinary. In 2015, I had few opportunities, but wonderful memories, in particular an evening with beautiful little banks of mist; in 2020, a little frustration due to the complicated weather, but in the end one beautiful night at the end of July; this year the opportunities were more numerous, all I had to do was manage the fatigue to take full advantage of them!
« Night of July 28 to 29. The sky clears on the north side in the evening, I'm off for a walk on the ridges (this time I don't hesitate), magnificent views of the mountains, the ocean, the ice floes, the rocky islands, and silhouettes of little auks against the midnight sun. The light, the landscape, the bird flights: just perfect. And a feeling of total freedom when I descend lightly on the section of thick moss between the tent and the hut.»
« Night of August 5 to 6. Asleep 9 p.m. I set my alarm clock for 1:30 a.m. The horizon is clear with small clouds tinged with red in the north: I'm going out. It is mild (light south wind). I stand overlooking the north bay, below the colony, in front of the sunrise and the ice of the bay disappearing. A fox (two-tone form) passes furtively with something in its mouth (photo confirmation: an adult little auk!), then some time later, two foxes (two-tone form) stop a little along the way before climbing straight up in the colony. I go up there too and sit there. Still empty at 3 a.m., it suddenly fills up around 4 a.m., then a gull passes, passes again, passes again, causing beautiful flights, landings, etc. On the way back down, the north wind picks up. 5:45 a.m.: after this “little night stroll” of a good four hours, return to the hut, where I find Greg awake with a bowl of coffee. I go back to bed for an hour and a half of additional sleep, he in turn goes for a walk.»
« Night of August 7 to 8. Maybe the last night here? (even if the ice in the bay and the last exchange with Mette lean towards a delayed departure) Still, I set the alarm clock again for 1:30 a.m., and as the sky is clear and adorned with beautiful red colors in the north, I go out! The loose toilet, with the bag dragged for about ten meters, makes me hesitate and be extra vigilant. Did a bear come by, or was it the curious fox from last night (who came to inspect the toilets) with perhaps a friend or two ? I go up and sit in the colony. The sun points (a point, really) above the horizon at 3 o'clock, then flattens completely, before taking on a more classic shape. A fox seen briefly under the colony. Constantly renewed pleasure of the swirling flights of little auks. Beautiful pinkish lights on a few individuals in front of the icy bay and the jagged mountains of Liverpool Land. On the way back, five hares around the hut.»
Let's leave the final word to the Czech writer Karel Čapek, who wrote in 1936 a beautiful travel story in Scandinavia, dotted with small drawings and touches of humor, "Travels in the North":
« Here in the North, it’s different; the sun is still so low on the horizon that the shadows are long and rich, like at our place when the day fades and the magical hours of late afternoon come – then the light takes on a golden hue, the shadows lengthen, objects fade, their contours soften and the relief becomes more evident than in the harsh, white light of day; we distinguish with absolute clarity every precious detail on the face of the world, but with the seductive and majestic retreat of distance. The northern day has the mildness of the late afternoon; all in all, my dear, I would choose the light of the North.»
[next episode 7/10] Well, what about polar bears ?