Tours › 2009 › Aktse › 21/3–26/3

Saturday 21/3 – Thursday 26/3

Beautiful finale

Saturday 21/3

I got up before 06:15, at which time the sky was partially clear, and the inner cloud seemed to have retreated a bit. I had an early breakfast and listened to the weather forecast, which was positive still, and it also seemed to grow clearer in over Sarek. I finished my preparations and went up to my guest, who was also soon ready to leave, and related the latest news. It was now evident that the weather was fair inside Sarek proper, and that the boundary was moving eastwards, which was encouraging. Ever since before starting this assignment I had had thoughts regarding skiing as far as possible into Rapadalen, which would require a number of factors such as no (or early departing) guests, good weather, good snow etc. – and now these factors seemed to coincide, finally. At the very least this looked like my last shot, as the forecasts promised much worsened conditions later on, so I decided to take it and set out on a long tour before 8.

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Once freed of my skis I looked through the upper cottage, noting that someone had been in the western room, and that there was also a new signature in the guestbook in the eastern one; the lower cottage seemed untouched, however. I put on the wash kettle and stretched thoroughly in the meantime, and directly afterwards I started dinner. It was getting colder and later the clouds also disappeared completely, save for the one inside the valley. Feeling rather worn I spent the evening resting and reading, clambering into bed at the usual time.

Evening 1

Sunday 22/3

Reindeer 1
Reindeer 2
Reindeer 3

I slept well but still woke up early, and found my legs less stiff than feared even though there definitely was some ache. The sky was clear save for a few high streaks in the southwest, there was no wind and the temperature was as low as –15°C again. As I was about to start breakfast two reindeer came walking across the "yard", after a while taking up position at the top of the slope, where they stood for quite some time. They appeared to be admiring the view, and save for lying down they did not move until I opened the door. As the morning progressed it was clear that this was going to be a fabulous day, which paradoxically lowered my mood significantly; obviously this should have been the day for the Rapadalen expedition, with the lack of guests and early awakening and all! Of course I could not do the whole thing over again even had I wanted to, given my physical condition, but oh did the whole situation feel frustrating!

There was also the question of laundry which I needed to take care of, and I started planning how to pack for my soon-to-be-imminent departure. As for the washing, this time I fired up in the lower cottage rather than in my own room, and while the temperature rose (from far below zero) I read in a book I found there. When the water was warm enough I entered the room in question and started washing, as it was too cold for comfort out in the common room, and while I was rinsing a snowmobile driver came in looking for "the warden". He and his companion wanted to visit the shop, so I took a break in what I was doing to meet their wishes, and then returned to finish up. I carried in some more firewood and put more logs on the fire, and then took a lunch pack down to the SNF cottage.

Aktse 15
All clear
SNF cottage 8
View 3
On the privy path

There I sat down on the porch at noon and ate, reading Utemagasinet and enjoying the sun (as best I could under the circumstances...). There was a light wind blowing, but it did not take much from the warmth, and I sat still for a long while. Then I went for a walk looking for nice photo angles of the old buildings of the settlement, taking care to find streaks of snow that could support my weight; it was now perfectly clear in all directions, and I still cursed my luck. I checked in with the hanging textiles, which were not drying very quickly, so I stuffed the heater full of firewood and rearranged some things, staying in the common room to keep an eye on it all.

Another wood-cutting session followed, and then more fire maintenance, and now the drying rate was improving. I kept at it until I felt that it was time for afternoon tea, which I had on the porch of the upper cottage; from there one has a good view of both the field and the lake, but I saw no movement whatsoever. I returned to the lower cottage to check in, and now some items were dry enough to be taken down. About then a snowmobile pulled in at the SNF cottage, and I later observed the presence of two people there, not to mention smoke coming from the chimney – these would be the first to use that building since the German ladies left in early March. I fed the fire some more and then prepared dinner, while the sun set behind Tjahkkelij and then returned west of it for a little while longer.

Aktse 16
In Aktse there are...
Aktse 17
...some old buildings...
SNF cottage 9
...and also...
Aktse cottages 12
...some newer ones

Having eaten I did away with the dishes quickly and then went out on an evening excursion – tired legs or no, I simply could not let this whole day go to waste, as it were. Wearing a minimum of clothes I set a good pace up the trail, being aided by my climbing skins, and once I had gotten comfortably warm my legs actually felt rather fine. Up among the birches there was a light wind, and the view over the valley was as usual a good one. I turned right on untouched snow the frozen crust of which split under the pressure of my skis, and the last few hundred meters up onto Amon Rûdh I followed my old tracks.

As expected the light conditions up there were terrific, and I photographed like never before, using a ski pole as a monopod. Even though it was getting colder I did not feel cold, probably because I had not broken a sweat on the way up, and I stayed in place for a lengthy period of time. It was, however, getting noticeably dimmer, and I had brought no light, so eventually I got going again. I went up to the side track directly, following this around the hill; it was now dark enough that it was difficult to see where I was going with my sunglasses on, so I had to face the cold drag (literally). Going down through the forest went well but required heavy braking, which towards the end of the steeper section had quite an impact on my thighs. I then dared to let go a bit, and once down on the trail I skied naturally.

When I reached the last mire before the settlement I continued straight ahead on a snowmobile track, coming onto the field in the corner closest to the SNF cottage. This I passed closely by, and looking in I saw that the two people were actually four, and since they were having dinner and never noticed my presence I postponed introductions to a later time. It was about 19:15 when I returned to my own cottage, and now the light was really weak.

Aktse 18
Into the forest
Trail 3
Above the forest
Rapadalen 7
Rapadalen and trees
Bårdde 3
Bårdde skyline
Panorama 3
Panorama over "The Gate to Sarek" from Amon Rûdh
Tjaktjajávrre 3
Tjaktjajávrre in the distance
SNF cottage 10

I immediately went to fetch my clothes, which were now dry enough, and the residual heat in the room would last for a long time yet. Back inside I sorted through my objects and made plans for what to send home in advance, and then did some report-related work. The rest of the evening held mostly reading for me, while outside it was still getting colder; the sky was clear and starful, but it was only the brighter ones that could be seen. The late forecast reaffirmed the bleak expectations for the coming days, and I still had that feeling of melancholy as I entered bed after 22.

Monday 23/3

After another good night's sleep with fjeldish dreams I awoke at 6 once more, and as promised it was mostly overcast and a slight haze hung before the peaks. I went back to bed until the weather report, which was much more positive than it had been before, and looking out I saw that it was actually clearing rather quickly from behind Skierffe. I had breakfast and then called the local fjeld weather service, which also had nothing but good things to say, so I quickly reoriented my plans and mood towards one final long excursion. My legs were feeling just fine, and the clouds lessened by the minute, so it was with very high spirits that I started upp the slope around 08:30.

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Two Swedes were sitting on the porch of the upper cottage, and I spoke some with them before going in; they told me that a couple of Frenchmen had headed for Skierffe earlier in the day, so obviously it was their tracks that I had come across. There were also another two Swedes in the lower cottage, and I went down to talk to them too, after which some shopping followed. During this the Frenchmen came in, immediately followed by two Germans from Sarek, and when the commotion had quieted down I locked myself in for a wash.

Now a cloud bank was approaching from the west, covering up Bårdde as it went, and there was also some wind. I started dinner, and then another bustle of shop-related activity started, so in the end I had to lock the door again to get a chance to eat. I then started packing the stuff I was to send home, filling a large box well over capacity, but I thought it would work anyway. It was not until now that I realized that my watch had been compromised, for the digital display and the position of the hands did not match at all. I could, however, with the help of the timestamps of the photos of the day trace the break point to sometime between descending from Niehter and rounding Bassoajvve again, so I was able to retroactively correct the times I had noted since then.

For some strange reason I was feeling tired, so I rested for a while before turning to evening snacking. The sky was once again clear and showed the full host of stars, but it was also windier; as usual it was evident from the sound in the forest that it was blowing harder elsewhere. After almost slipping to my death in the li'l slope down to my cottage I proceeded straight to bed, feeling the exact opposite compared to the same time the preceding day.

Tuesday 24/3

The wind was still on in the morning, and so was the otherwise nice weather. Morning procedures done I went to give the weather report to the others, ending up speaking extensively about how the coming days – which now seemed more and more promising – could be put to use, as all but the couple in the lower cottage were staying. I then triple checked my overfull box as well as all the items not in it, and finding everything in order (again) I sealed the carton thoroughly. The Frenchmen started off in the direction of Nammásj, and the Swedes aimed for Skierffe, a bit later being followed by the Germans.

Now it was growing cloudier around the inner peaks, and a large cloud cast its shadow over the lake, but otherwise things were still fair indeed. Feeling rather content with myself I just took it easy until the expected snowmobile sound approached, and Tobbe pulled in with Carl, his wife and their two dogs. After they had unloaded their stuff I loaded mine, and then Tobbe continued towards Ritsem, leaving one of the two sleds he had pulled for Sture to pick up later on. I remained outside talking to Carl about this and that, until my feet got cold enough that I saw fit to return inside for lunch, while they took up position in the dog room.

Shortly thereafter two other snowmobiles came up, carrying two of the fishermen I had met out on Lájtávrre previously, and they wanted to stay in Aktse for at least one night this time. While I checked out some new material Tobbe had brought a total of seven other snowmobile people came to pause outside, and I also observed a couple of figures upon Skierffe with my binoculars. After some more talk with Carl I started my last baking session, during which I saw another two people on Skierffe, so I guessed that both groups had made it fine. As I was finishing up Carl and his wife went for an afternoon tour into the delta with their dogs, and then the Frenchmen came back. I had afternoon tea and listened to the radio, and when Carl returned I went out for another chat. As the sun passed into a veil both the Skierffe pairs returned, and some discussion about animal tracks ensued, itself followed by shopping and more tour tips.

Sun 14
Evening 2

Come dinnertime the veil was retreating towards the west, whence it had come, and it was getting markedly colder. Shortly after the meal two Dutchmen came, having taken a detour to Skierffe from Sitojaure, and one of them had suffered some slight bloodshed in the dreaded slope down through the forest. At the same time two of the SNF people came up, and they all rummaged through the shop. After things had settled down again, and I had had a chance to have my dessert, another two people came in speaking English, and in the gloom I simply could not place them. After some confusion it turned out that these were of course the two Swedish fishermen, who had been conversing with the Dutchmen and Germans and simply not realized that they were still holding onto the English.

After taking care of business with them things were calm for a while again, but at 20 a man came walking up the slope. I thought that he looked familiar, and when I got a better look at him – and his ID – inside my suspicions were confirmed: this was none other than James Baxter, the "Scottish Norwegian" whom I had met in Nallo. Our conversation which until then had been conducted in English now changed to Swedish/Norwegian, and I learnt that he had covered the whole distance from Kvikkjokk in no more than 7.5 hours. Feeling that "Dutchmen are fine people" he chose to reside in the lower cottage, bringing the total number of overnight guests (including Carl et al) to 13, which was a season record (kind of meagre condiering there are 34 beds, but still). I read in Utemagasinet and played solitaire, had my snack and went to bed at 22.

Wednesday 25/3

Dog 5
One of Carl's dogs

In the early morning there was a high cloud blanket, but the temperature was still as low as –17°C and it was windless. At breakfast later on these clouds started breaking up, and there were some whirling flakes in the growing light. I went over to the upper cottage for a morning report, and then went in to Carl's to talk a little and cuddle with the li'l dogs. The Dutchmen had just left when I went down to the lower cottage, but one of them turned back shortly because he had forgotten his map. Inside I spoke about weather and winds with the remaining people, learning more about James's expidition (Ski Paddle Norway). The two Swedes were to stay for a third night, and they set off up the valley.

When they had left I took Carl for a thorough tour of the premises, and while we were going through the shop James came in to buy a bar of chocolate; after yesterday's effort he was taking it easy, and aimed no further than Sitojaure today. Then a snowmobile group of five came to have lunch in the lower cottage, where the fishermen were also having theirs, and the latter dumped their surplus pancakes'n'jam on me. They had decided to go home later in the day, so I took the opportunity to bestow some mail upon them, and then I sat down to have lunch.

After the group had left my colleague did as well, and I went out for a walk myself. The weather was still as fair as one could ask for, and I was still feeling a very content calm – quite the contrast to the uneasiness of but a few days before. I did some work in the lower cottage and also in the store, where the "sale shelf" had seen a large decrease in content of late. Then a snowmobile brought Inger (Carl's wife) up – her binding had broken, and one of the Länthas had been nice enough to give her a lift. I was on my way out to the upper porch to have afternoon tea, and we sat down together until Carl came back. A bit later a German came up the slope, having gone from Pårte, and after a while her companion also made it.

It was now getting chillier and a high front was approaching from the west, so I went inside and started dinner. The two Swedes then came back after a visit to Litnok, and after a good deal of shop duty I could settle down to eat. The cloud front was beginning to split up, and by the time darkness fell it had pulled back considerably. I packed up the clothes I would not be needing, and went to bed as the last one at 22, noting that the thermometer showed –18°C.

Dog 6
Sound asleep
Evening 3
Retreating clouds

Thursday 26/3

Morning 1
Morning 2
Morning 3

On my last day in active service I awoke at 05:30 from a pressing need, and being awed by the red light on the peaks I actually ran down the field, just having enough time to record the event before the light faded. Back up at the cottages I registered that the air temperature was –21°C, which was the lowest since the start, and beginning to feel cold I tucked myself in again. After giving the morning report to the other guests later I went in to Carl's for a long talk, and then I locked myself in to do my economic report. Having succeeded in this task I continued to pack, and then set about cleaning the place. I moved my things up to the free room in the upper cottage, and while I was at it a single dogsled driver stopped by for a short break. I was now ready to formally relinquish wardenship to Carl, and as he started moving into the warden's room I went in to prepare lunch.

Sun 15

In the early afternoon an older German-speaking couple arrived and they joined me in the eastern room. A number of snowmobiles were pulling in at the lower cottage, and Carl and I went out to talk some with them; they were only pausing, however. I then spoke some with the others, who as I had already guessed were in fact Austrian, after which I chopped some firewood and read a bit. Since my time was now nearing its end I went down to Läntha's to say farewell, finding only Lennart there – Anne-Sophie had left for Tjåmotis just minutes earlier. This was actually the first time that I had met the man, even though I had seen him from afar a few times, and we talked for a bit.

Back up with the Austrians I had afternoon tea, and when Carl came back from another afternoon tour we were joined by the female half of the SNF quartet; the male one was currently on a Sarek camping expedition. We talked for quite some time, with a fair bit of interleaved dog-patting, while yet another cloud bank appeared in the west, and eventually it swallowed the sun.

After a very sturdy dinner and dessert I just relaxed inside while the Austrians played cards, and now the bank had almost spread across the sky. Carl then came in with some goods from the shop that Lars in Sitojaure wanted me to bring, which was a bit of a downer as I had taken great care to make my pack as light as possible. When the others had went to bed I restarted the dwindling fire and then turned in for my last night in Aktse at 21:30.



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