The next day was mostly cloudy, with a bit of fresh powder reaching lower than before. Anna and Aril, both having time off, contemplated going for a tour, and upon deciding on Lappjordhytta I lent them my DNT key. After a very good lunch I went for a photo round in the chill air, and not much later it was time to start work.
This was calm as usual, and we had ample time for cake to celebrate Birger the cottage manager's birthday. He was there for the warden course, the participants of which I got to tend to later on – all 36 of them, but it went well. We finished up in good time, and feeling tired I did not waste too much of it before going to bed.
This day I had the split shift, the first part of which was easy enough and I got lots of things done. Then suddenly I heard Marco yell and swear loudly, and soon discovered the reason: it was snowing outside, and quite heavily too. It soon passed, however, but there was a heavy bout of hail around lunch, which forced a helicopter to temporarily set down on the road to the cableway due to the sudden severe reduction in visibility.
After that it was nice out in the sun, which had come back out, and I went for a little walk while it lasted. As I entered the restaurant for the second part of the day's work the others were just finishing up the table-laying, and the rest of the evening progressed quickly. After leaving Joel to do the last bit of floor cleaning I went up to the kitchen, which was choke-full of people – there had been some sort of shrimp fest – so I excused myself and eventually hit the sack at 00:15.
After a night of interruptions I got up to find the ground covered in frost as far as eye could see, and a bit more snow arrived before long. Having discovered an error in the previous night's monetary account I went down to rectify it (which was easily done, now that I knew what the problem was), and sat looking at the still falling snow. At lunch I met Anna, who had returned from Pålnoviken by way of helicopter a day later than planned – she had sprained her ankle there on the way back from Lappjordhytta, which necessitated an unplanned night in Pålnoviken. Since I have some experience in that regard, being a former football (to the Yanks: that's foot, ball – get your names straight, will ya?) player, I offered what insights I had, and then went down to my last day of regular work in the restaurant.
After we finished preparations we had basically nothing to do, since there were few guests and most had booked dinner at a later time, so I took the opportunity to admire the pretty evening light. The tempo increased later on, but that also applied to the finishing-up, so I got to leave on time again. Some more magazine work followed, and then bed at 00:15 once more.
The morning was fairly nice, but drifting clouds hung about Abiskoalperna. I met Anna and Linn in the kitchen, and we decided to make use of our monthly 3-course dinner opportunity together tonight, as the menu was favorable and we were all available. After lunch I went to check out the "new" shop in the village, which had been acquired by Coop and had been closed for several days for rebranding and suchlike. The walk over there was pretty cold, requiring both cap and gloves, and the shop itself turned out to be a huge disappointment – same old crap, just a different sign at the door. Bah!
In the evening I was pleased to note that the cave tour on the morrow had participants, which meant that it would happen, so I added myself to the list now that I finally had the chance. Anna and Linn had entered the restaurant through the side door, due to Anna's hopping on crutches, and since there weren't many other guests we got a window table. The dinner itself was excellent as well as filling, so we were quite happy with our choice. To wit, we had:
- Hors d'œuvre: Gazpacho
- Main course: lightly smoked Arctic char with citrus potato puree and mushrooms
- Dessert: Milk chocolate panna cotta with strawberry salsa
Later in the evening Anna and her researcher friend were going up to ASS, and as it turned out I had to show said friend where Björn's so-called car stood, so that she could drive Anna up to the cableway, but rather than joining them there I completed the proof-reading of the preliminary version of the magazine and went to bed.
It was a great morning, and after making a food pack I went down to the entrance, where I was brought into the sports shop to be outfitted with cave gear (rubber boots, overall, helmet with lights, gloves), as did Marielle, Magnus and a friend of theirs, so it was two actual guests and four staff – plus Mia, the guide. Then we all went out to the minivan, and started the drive to Björkliden.
Back at the station I went over to the "sun wall" where just about everyone else was sitting, for quite understandable reasons. After a good sauna I had dinner and enjoyed the beautiful evening, going out for a late photo round in the nicely cool and fresh air. Later on there was a party of sorts in the basement in the staff wing, where A-L and Marco had converted their rooms (and the washing room) to the proper venues. It was a fairly relaxed thing, and it was just on the stroke of midnight that I eventually put out the light in my bed.
The morning was mostly nice and fresh, and as it passed into day it got better still, so I decided to go for a short tour along Kungsleden, leaving around 11:15.
I had a calm afternoon, and after dinner started packing up what I could, since my sojourn was almost at an end. A whimsical evening snack in the company of those who contributed to the effect followed, and I was also alerted to the fact that the cleaning session the next day was to start at 9, which was way better than the nominal 14. I continued to work on the magazine issue, and then turned in at midnight.
The breakfast in the restaurant was very calm, so Sofia and I could start cleaning procedures right away, ticking off points on a list. The weather improved up until lunch, although it was still fairly cold outside, but I managed to take care of the yard-facing windows without the aid of a sweater. Everything went according to plan, and we had gone through the entire list by the time our shift ended, which was at 17. I immediately threw my remaining laundry into the washing machine, which Magnus had just emptied, and then had a sandwich in the kitchen, where Anna was her usual over-optimistic self time-wise – we were all going up to ASS rather soon for another end-of-season party with the cableway crew, who otherwise tend to be separated from the rest of the staff for obvious reasons.
When the time came I donned a bunch of clothes against the cold and walked over with Gustav, another fairly new addition to the cleaning department. At nighttime each cableway carriage with people in it is fitted with a blinking light to show just that, and it looked like the entire stretch was blinking as we approached the ground station. Therefore, as expected, the journey up was riddled with interruptions, some rather long, and the top part was all in fog.
Quite a few people had arrived already, and I settled down with some hot chocolate before soup and sausages were served, plus a multitude of cakes and the like. Yum. There were speeches and quizzes, and the cloud gave way to show the lights below. I went down again with a few others somewhere in the middle of the imagined line, and this journey was much quicker. After a brisk walk home I collected my laundry, and observed another line of blinking lights upon the mountain as the rest returned down, going to bed at 1 o'clock.
I got up at 9 to rain and low clouds, and after taking out the communal trash I set about doing my part of the likewise communal cleaning in the staff housing. Then it was time for my own room, which went well, and I stored my stuff out in the corridor while the floors dried. The people who were taking the 12:00 train were soon on the move, and those of us who weren't accompanied them to the train station. An outburst of hugging followed, in some cases accompanied by a tear or more, and then I went to prepare my last lunch with the very last of my acquired provisions – carefully calculated.
I spent some time with the others who had employed the services of the restaurant instead, and then went to have a goodbye talk with Marita. It was almost time for me to leave as well, but first I did another trash round. I bade farewell to the others, except Gustav and A-L who helped me carry my stuff to the train; I was the only staff member to be booked on this train seeing as how I wouldn't be on it further south than Sundsvall, and thus had no need for an earlier start. Said train was on time, but was ludicrously short – the engine and two (2) cars – so it was really the end of the season. I noted that the weather was now almost identical to the way it had been when I arrived six weeks earlier, but as the train sped away eastwards Lapporten emerged from hiding as if to wish me a pleasant journey – and entice new ones.