I was going to go cycling yesterday, for a long trip. It’s very cold so I wanted to have sunshine to provide at least a little bit of warmth. Both YR and SMHI were saying that it would be sunny, only FMI insisted on clouds all day. And as it turns out… the Finnish meteorologists know our weather better than the Norwegians and the Swedish do. The clouds refused to lift. By noon I gave up on the bike, and considered doing my planned Sunday hike instead, but I was doubtful even that would work with these low clouds. I figured that SMHI and YR were partly right, the clouds were only at a certain altitude so if I could get high enough, maybe I could get above the clouds. The obvious choice was Ånnfjället, at 1301m it is higher than average around here (in case you’re wondering, the average of the 60 toppar peaks is exactly 1200m), and it’s easy to reach which makes it perfect for half a day hike.
With the humidity in the air and the cold night, all trees were gloriously frosty. The thin cloud cover let through enough light to make the frost really glow, so the landscape was beautiful. Very special to see it like this. Soon after getting out of the forest, I got into the clouds instead, but just to prove that the cloud cover really wasn’t very thick, I saw the pale disc of sun by the time I reached the tarn. The clouds (or the fog?) were getting thinner and the thinner the higher up I got, and the burning question was, would the peak be above clouds?
At around 1200m, I started seeing this bow – I’ve seen a similar bow before but I never had a name for it, so I kept calling it a ”cloud bow” in my mind. At home I found out that it’s a fog bow (in Swedish, sometimes called vit regnbåge, ”white rainbow”). Just before I reached the peak, I finally got above the clouds and I was really excited to see that the fog bow was still visible, against the blue sky! I very nearly ran to the peak because I just had to see what it looks like on the other side, where there is less foreground to cut the bow short. And what a sight it was, I saw over half of the bow and to top it all off, in the middle of the bow I saw my own shadow surrounded by a glory! Now that is something you don’t get to see often for sure. I quote from Wikipedia:
Like a rainbow, a glory is centered on the antisolar (or, in case of the Moon, antilunar) point, which coincides with the shadow of the observer’s head. Since this point is by definition diametrically opposed to the Sun’s (or Moon’s) position in the sky, it always lies below the observer’s horizon when the Sun (Moon) is up. In order to see a glory, therefore, the clouds or fog causing it must be located below the observer, in a straight line with the Sun/Moon and the observer’s eye. Hence, the glory is commonly observed from a high viewpoint such as a mountain, tall building or from an aircraft.
After taking the pictures, I sat down to drink some coffee. I poured a cup and looked towards the fog bow, but it was already gone – the wind had blown away the fog. How is that for perfect timing?! You can call it luck, skill or an educated guess, but coming to Ånnfjället was exactly the right thing to do and I can say for sure that my Plan C worked out much better than my Plan A or Plan B would have!
Going back down, I was soon in the clouds again. With the afternoon getting late, the light had also changed and the frost didn’t glow quite as much as it did before. And down in the forest, the temperature was just above freezing so the frost was mostly gone. As I said, timing!