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Photographing Segla under the midnight sun: The best hike in Norway

Low, thick cloud. Brilliant.

It was our last opportunity to get into the mountains of Northern Norway to photograph the midnight sun, and Senja was covered in grey soup. The sun was surely shining brightly above but we sure as hell didn’t know it. We had gambled on the weather and saved the best hike until last: a lookout near the incredible Segla mountain.

Maybe that was a mistake.

At the base of the main trail we found someone who had just returned from the top of Segla. Through broken english we gathered the view was amazing, and the top half of the mountain was poking through the clouds. This was exciting. If the surrounding hills we’re poking through too, we’d have an incredible view.

I dragged Sharon to the other end of town and out onto an empty trail. The peace and quiet could be a good thing or a bad thing. But probably neither. Only lunatics hike at 11pm. Up we went into the mist. No bearings, no map, no idea if this was the right trail. Our path cut through a rocky field, then a sparse forest with thin sinewy trees, their branches reaching out like Freddie Krueger’s fingers. It was straight out of a horror movie. With one eye over our shoulder we scrambled higher, and the path got steeper. An hour had passed, and here were glimpses of an opening above us. We knew we must be getting close.

The blanket thinned more and more, until we reached a ridge with clear air. I got my bearings and wheeled around. There was Selga: looming high above us. A giant spire reaching straight into the sky. This whole time we didn’t even know we were close enough to touch it.

There we sat, floating in the clouds above the misty wilderness. To the west a ridgeline jutted out like the spine of a sleeping dinosaur. To the north the sun sat low on the horizon behind a cluster of rocky peaks. And to the south, Segla.

Segla Mountain Senja surrounded by cloud. Picture: Nathan Dukes Art
Segla Mountain Senja surrounded by cloud. Picture: Nathan Dukes Art

From this angle the peak didn’t look real. It made for quite an interesting effect with the photographs I took. What we could see was barely a fraction of the whole mountain, like an iceberg bobbing in a white sea. Hidden from view was the sheer 600 metre plunge into the ocean, and the adjoining cliff edge that stretch from Selga under our noses and beyond to the north. I took some wide angle photographs with the 10-24mm lens in a mini amphitheatre of rocks on the lookout, which gave it some nice foreground interest, but by far the best photos I took were zoomed in to 24mm, with the peak isolated from distraction in the mist. The sunset gave me some beautiful pinks and purple tones in the clouds and horizon.

What started as a stab in the dark became one of our favourite Norwegian experiences.

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