First of all, I was rather surprised at the low outcome guest-wise – especially in the beginning. All the more so since I had gone into this assignment fully expecting not a rush, but significantly higher numbers than I had had previously, especially considering Aktse's location right on Kungsleden. Now, isolation as such doesn't bother me overly – a strange choice of occupation this would be otherwise – but I was more sorry for a) the guests who could have experienced the nice end of February had they come, and b) STF, for whose benefit I could write nothing but zeroes in my tables. For it was a nice end of February, and I used the time to the fullest, with the spirit of freshness and all. As for the solitude, I had a few daytime visits, and there were also the Germans and the Länthas close by, even if I did not see them much, so that was never close to being an issue.
What was actually boring, however, was the following start of March, which saw plenty of weather which was not actually bad per se, but... well, boring. Low clouds and snowfall precluding any sights save possibly of the lake below is not a very interesting state of affairs, and with the continued lack of guests it was a bit frustrating at times. As the month progressed things picked up, but it was quite some time before the weather stabilized, and it took right up till the end for the sky over Sarek to grow clear again. Here I must elaborate upon those final days, which were emotionally uneven, to say the least.
It all started with my deciding to go for that long tour up Rapadalen at long last, since everything seemed to fit – and since I believed it to be my last chance. I was also most satisfied with the tour; even though the persistent cloud around Gådoktjåhkkå was annoying, the moment upon Lulep Spádnek when the mists parted and revealed most (albeit not all) of the area around Rapaselet was one of pure joy, and the view in the opposite direction was no downer either. It was therefore a bit of a shock to find the next day much better suited for the purpose, and I could not help but feeling cheated out of greatness – regardless of that the evening before I had felt that greatness had already been achieved.
Then, literally out of the blue, came an opportunity for redemption, as it were, when I ascended Niehter on a perfectly clear day – the very last day I could practically have done so – and this provided said greatness in abundance. Having thus gone from high, to low, to higher, I was infinitely content, and took the following slow (and still fair) days all in stride with an internal smile.
As for my other excursions, I got to do quite a few, in various directions, and my telemarking skills also improved quickly thanks to all the trees that were in the way. The visits to Skierffe and Tjahkkelij deserve to be singled out, and having seen the delta in monochrome presentation I hunger for an autumnal view of the same, when every conceivable color should be present. Despite the proximity of these two steep formations – posts of the Gate – I will say that at times I felt somewhat "disconnected" from the higher fjelds, since Aktse lies along the eastern boundary of that region; not that woodland and "low highland" don't have their merits, but I think I feel more at home when the peaks are at least closer. The cotrast to last year's sojourn in Nallo was also great, but not much compares to that place anyway.
Perhaps the above sounds overly negative, for I certainly did have a good time in Aktse. Certain aspects may not have turned out as expected, but when is that ever the case, hm? The place is one of great beauty, with the eye-catching shape of Skierffe looming over the settlement, Tjahkkelij standing guard on the other side of the lake, and the mysterious slab of Nammásj as a lone sentinel at the entrance to Rapadalen. This view, this Gate, is one of the most photographed in Sweden when it comes to fjeld motifs, and many are those who know it well despite never having been there – I sure did.
Weather-wise things could definitely have been more, well, stimulating, but the other extreme can also be detrimental – Gunilla who was the warden last winter told me that it was so calm then that all the snow that fell (and plenty it was that fell) just accumulated in a fluffy fashion, with no wind or temperature shifts to pack it, which made getting around rather difficult. I got a taste of this right at the start – and there is something to be said for that kind of snow as well, if one is not forced to endure it for long distances, and especially with regard to downhill skiing – but it was not too long before a stable base was formed, and I never had any real problems going where I wanted to go for such reasons. In this area snowmobile traffic is also allowed on Kungsleden, and while I in general have no love for the disturbing effects of such activities upon what would otherwise be tranquil wilderness, I never felt this was a problem in or around Aktse.
Returning to my original "raison d'être" for the choice of Aktse, I can only say that it was realized. Several forays into the Park were logged, and a good number of its impressive peaks had to put up with being ogled from afar; to the latter end the ascents of Skierffe and Niehter have no match. And, again, the long ski tour through Rapadalen culminating in the climb up Lulep Spádnek was a winner, never mind what followed – standing there I really felt like I was deep into the wilderness, a feeling strengthened by the fact that I never met a soul that day.
Skipping forward to the end, placing the finale in Saltoluokta was a huge success. Not only was the way there a pleasant one, with a perfectly clear second half allowing the fragile grandeur of Sjöfallsdalen to come out in full, but the stay itself was also enjoyable, with good food, good company, and good tours. Áhusjgårsså was a fun experience, with the ice above the sharp turn an astonishing surprise, and I also got to visit Bietsávrre, which is something I had been wanting to do. Too bad about the downhill conditions – Tjeburisvárásj can otherwise present some great runs – but one can't have it all, eh? Having returned home I immediately turned my mind towards Easter and more skiing, for the season was far from over...