When I got up in the morning it was snowing lightly and visibility was bad, but soon more and more of the valley appeared. Upon getting out of bed I found a watch wedged between the mattress and the frame, and since the reception was closed I went to have a sturdy breakfast in the restaurant, soon being joined by various members of the staff. It had been my plan all along to stay for another night in Saltoluokta, so I started considering my options regarding what to do this day. Having decided on an unhurried visit to Bietsávrre I dropped off the watch and started preparing, and then left with climbing skins on before 10.
I skied on a snowmobile track following the summer trail/path to Bietsávrre, after a while coming to a nice spot with a fireplace and some wood. Obviously it was in service of this place that the snowmobile been used, for from then on it was only ski tracks. Soon I reached the lower mouth of the ravine called Áhusjgårsså, through which the tracks continued, and so did I. At its bottom there were a good deal of rocks of various sizes and also some shrubs and small trees, but finding a way was not difficult, tracks or no. I mostly kept to the eastern side, passing a few more cumbersome portions, and looking up above the other edge I could see a bit of blue.
Somewhat later what appeared to be a sudden end of the crevice could be seen ahead, but upon reaching it it was clear that while continuing forward was (next to) impossible the ravine itself turned sharply to the right, and then immediately to the left again. Looking through these turns I wowed at the staggering ice formations on the other side, and after crossing a somewhat steep snowdrift that blocked the narrow passage I saw that there was more ice further up, shifting in hues of blue and yellow. I proceeded straight up a hefty slope and then up towards the eastern edge as I neared the upper end of the ravine, where the inclination was smaller, but the snow was still not entirely stable. Out of the protection of Áhusjgårsså an easterly wind hit my side, and I skied with it past the upper mouth and over another rise, on the other side of which was a perfect plain through the middle of which runs the border of Stora Sjöfallet National Park.
Going over this plain brought me out to the much larger one between Bietsávrre and Kungsleden, and I followed the northern edge of this, where there was a snowmobile track licking the park border. On the other side Rásek was half visible, but otherwise it was still pretty white. The wind came and went as I approached the Sámi encampment at the northeastern corner of the lake, turning towards the marked trail when the ground got bumpier, and then straight at the buildings when they appeared.
There were some people about, and by the looks of it they were preparing to leave and were cleaning out some of the cabins. I skied through the encampment, which consists of both modern houses and traditional huts, to the westernmost of the latter, where I attempted to find shelter from the wind at noon. Having succeeded moderately well I sat down for lunch, looking at a couple of people who were fishing out on the lake. The wind shifted and visibility was slowly getting better to the southwest, and to the south the sky was getting bluer. Lulep Gierkav was also showing itself every now and then, and Rásek was all out most of the time; more and more of Hállji appeared from the mists across the lake, but Sluggá remained covered. Out on the ice the fishers moved about with their snowmobile, and I saw several catches. After a short solar breakthrough and the cessation of all wind I got up from my sitting position and put the skis back on.
I went up the slope behind the encampment, going a bit east before turning back and traversing the place once more. The sun was back, and although it was weak it was warming noticeably. I proceeded up onto a rise just east of the buildings, after which I slowly made my way towards the trail. Behind me a nice weak light was growing in the distance, and beyond the near clouds the northern sky was clear. Måskostjåhkkå also made a brief appearance in my field of view, and then I reacquainted myself with the easterly wind. As I climbed the little slope where the trail turns the clouds were pulling shut behind me, and up on the flat part there was not that much snow (but no worries) – and the wind had turned southerly.
At the intersection with Kungsleden parts of Sjöfallsdalen were visible between the clouds, and further up the lake system there was a soft light. The slope was for the most part as good as it had been the day before, and going was fun all the way into the forest, where I let go a bit earlier than before. Just before the final turn I broke off onto another track, which as expected lead to the Sáltoluokta Sámi encampment, which I in turn made my way through, coming down to the shore at the boat jetty. From there I followed the path up to the station, where I stopped some time after 15.
After placing my ski boots close to the radiator to dry I said hi to Sandra who had just started her shift in the reception, and then had afternoon tea and a fruit in the common room. I spoke some more with Sandra and then went to the sauna, which was empty at the moment. When I was done I went for a short walk, and now it was mild and still, and the western light was rather strong. Back in the main building I sat myself down in the foyer to read a newspaper, and then Rebecca who had also been a member of the "early trio" came out from the restaurant to check; they were waiting for the STF group to come in, and since those were running a bit late the rest of us got to go in soon anyway. This rest consisted of myself and a middle-aged couple, and we were seated together; apart from the group there would also be three Germans, but no one knew where they were either.
The following dinner was calm and good, and came in this form:
- Hors d'œvre: arctic char pâté on toast
- Main course: hare stew with champignons and smoked pork, potatoes and jelly
- Dessert: lingonberry parfait on soft gingerbread with ginger caramel sauce
- Also included: various salads, bread
I talked a lot with the couple, as usual mostly centering around fjelds and the life of a cottage warden, and at long last the Germans also showed up. Afterwards I chatted some more with Sandra and then ogled not her but a recently published book about nature monitoring personnel, in which Sture played a large part; before retiring and getting involved with STF he worked for the County Administration for many years. Outside it was nice and still, and I took in my backcountry skis as I did not expect to need them again. I had an idea what to do with the last day before the bus was to leave, and I prepared as much I could. I then went down to the foyer and put some logs on the dying fire, finishing the newspaper by the revigorated flames. Save for the cleaning staff I was the only one still up, and at 22:30 I called it a night as well.