Tours › 2006 › Around Sylarna › Day 3

Wednesday 8/3

Stage map 3

Vålåvalen – Gåsen (via Lievkiesåajjatjärnen)

Horizontal distance:16.5 km
Vertical distance:+300 m, -60 m, +60 m, -100 m, +70 m, -40 m
Time:5 h 15 min
Lunch break: 45 min
Dinner:Spaghetti Bolognese
Night accommodation:Cottage
Stage classification:Easy/Medium
Map points:Vålåvalen, Gåsen

I woke up before 7, found the room fairly warm still, and lay till 07:15. The outside world was in the firm grip of a fog which appeared to have its base just above the slope the cottages sit on, the trees were covered in frost, and the air felt rather cold. With the addition of a complete absence of wind, the ultimate silence and tranquility was almost eerie. As the morning progressed, the clouds descended further, and soon the buildings were entirely isolated. The other two guests would also go to Gåsen – now under much more favorable conditions – and they left before I did. The husband-warden was off to Stensdalen to congratulate the warden there, who celebrated his 65th birthday.

Morning 1
Dawn approaching
Sun 1
Sun 2
A cold sun
Clouds 1

When I departed just before 09:30, everything was still all white. There was a light wind out on the open expanse, where I had an easy time skiing in the fresh tracks of the forerunners; I had padded the sore ankle with a spare sock, which worked well enough. Shortly after the trail split to Helags, however, I caught up with them, and after a brief conversation I continued on by myself. I had given some thought to taking the aforementioned trail to the Ljungan shelter, and then pass south of Härjångsfjällen, through Holkendurrie, eventually reaching the trail between Helags and Gåsen, but with the fog and all I scrapped that idea and shuffled along through Härjångsdalen, following the main marked trail.

I had the distinct feeling that the mist was slowly dissipating ahead; I could just detect a slightly bluer hue in that direction. Sure enough, after passing Gruvsmällen it started to clear, and after a while I could see Gåsen's gentle slope afar. I stopped on a low rise to contemplate my continued journey, and came to the decision that I would break off the trail and go through the pass between Lievkiesåajja and Vuelie Livkiesåajja, and return somewhere in the vicinity of Kleavetje.

Vålå cottages 7
Leaving the cottages...
Trail 1
...and entering the fog
Sun 3
A cold sun still
Lievkiesåajja 1
The clouds dissipating to reveal Lievkiesåajja...
Tvärhammaren 1
...and Tvärhammaren
Trail 2
The continuation of the trail up the valley

I started climbing, which was easy at first but grew more demanding as I went on. With an unhampered sun, a nonexistent wind, and what felt like just a few degrees below freezing, said climb proved to be a warm endeavor, and I removed both cap and gloves. I had good views of the valley below, with Härjångsfjällen on the other side, and the cloud I had left behind obviously had not moved much. Apparently, it also extended beyond the heights, so even if I had gone to Ljungan (which surely would have been in near-whiteout), the rest of the journey would likely not have offered any views of note. Once on the crest, I could see that there was a similar cloud spread out through the valleys to the north, where I had passed on day 1.

I looked for a suitable camp location after the pass, and rejected a couple due to their being close to Lievkiesåajja's shadow; I judged that it would engulf them while I would still be sitting still, which I wanted to avoid. Instead, I found a good snowy rock out of reach, and just at noon I brought out my camping stove to produce the boiling water needed for my lunch, which this time was comprised of a package of freeze-dried Swedish lobscouse. Unfortunately, I had managed to pick the only location of the entire stage where there was a substantial wind – the break was cold and not entirely pleasant, and I almost started regretting not sticking to the trail in the sheltered valley. As a result, I didn't spend more time than necessary immobilized.

Härjångsfjällen 1
Clouds 2
Clouds 3
...the clouds behind
Lievkiesåajja 2
Lievkiesåajja up close
Clouds 4
Clouds parked in Stensdalarna too
Västra Bunnerstöten 4
Västra Bunnerstöten heaving itself above the horizon
Fjelds 1
Still clouds to the south

Once I resumed rounding Lievkiesåajja, the wind subsided entirely, and when Sylarna reared their peaks above the slopes in front, all thoughts of regret were crushed. I descended a slope and was well out on Lievkiesåajjatjärnen without even noticing that I was passing over a large body of water – there was that much snow covering its frozen surface. I gained some altitude on Kleavetje before starting to glide down diagonally towards the trail. Looking back, I saw that the cloud I had exited in the morning apparently had crept upwards, and was now in the process of obscuring the valley just a few kilometers down.

I reestablished contact with the trail just where it began to climb the last rise before the cottages, and before setting about climbing myself I stopped to remove the micro fleece shirt; the weather was still very fair. There was an apparently fresh track from a dogsled running along the trail, which served as an excellent base for skiing. It veered off at the last small descent, though, eschewing the cottages and heading directly for the trail to Stensdalen, so I made my own tracks again for the last few hundred meters.

In a wind which up there on the more exposed stretches was appreciable, I arrived simultaneously as the warden – also the same as before – who had been on a quick tour to Stora Härjångsstöten and back. He had received advance notice that there would be three guests from Vålåvalen, so he had heated up the section of the older cottage used by the German group the night before, and went inside to tend to the fire. The newer cottage had not yet been opened, since there had not been enough visitors to warrant doing so; it would be most unnecessary to warm up the whole much larger structure for just a handful of people.

Sylarna 3
Sylarna coming into view
Stråahpatjaerhvie 1
Stråahpatjaerhvie on the other side of...
Fjelds 2
Shelter 1
...with its shelter far below
Clouds 5
Clouds drifting up the valley
Sun 12
Perfectly clear ahead, though
Trail 3
Climbing the last rise...
Sylarna 4
...revealing Sylarna and the Gåsen cottages
Trail 4
One last look back before descending...
Gåsen cottages 1 the cottages

I dumped the pack inside and then walked around for a bit, taking photos, and called Sylarna's fjeld station to reserve a bed for the next night. I then proceeded to fetch water; even though there was no shortage of snow, the depth of the water hole wasn't fully as large as last time. It was rather cold and the wind seemed to be on the increase, and clouds were coming in from the southeast. The warden told me that they had been parked in that direction all day, and had only recently began to break apart, so combined with the fact that the great eye-catcher to the south – the Helags massif – was almost entirely enwrapped, I felt much content about not having chosen the Holkendurrie route.

Holkendurrie 1
Towards Holkendurrie
Gåsen cottages 2
The newer cottage
Helags 2
Cloud-capped Helags
Sylarna 5
More of Sylarna...
Holkendurrie 2
...and Holkendurrie
Stora Härjångsstöten 1
Stora Härjångsstöten

Later in the afternoon, the remaining two persons arrived. While I was "done for the day" and went inside to relax, they stayed outside for a while and also went to purchase provisions in the mini shop. Myself, I prepared a light snack and found myself something to read. A bit later, the warden came in to take payments; also in this place I was the first to claim the special discount. I then continued to read while monitoring the descent of the sun, looking for good photo opportunities.

Sun 13
A sequence...
Sun 14
...of the sun...
Sun 15
...setting behind...
Sun 16
...Sylarna and Gåsen
Helags 3
Stora Härjångsstöten 2
...and Stora Härjångsstöten...
Evening 1 the evening

I had dinner at 18:15, and I was just finishing up when another couple arrived from Storulvån. Since they were allergic to dogs, and the section the rest of us resided in is the designated dog room, they got to take the other, empty section. The only problem was that while our side of the building was warm and cozy, the opposite one was literally freezing. After some time, the newcomers came over to prepare food, since that required frying, which for some reason the warden had forbidden them to perform in the other room.

Night 1

With the sun gone, the temperature outside dropped rapidly, and soon approached -20°C. While the clouds all around remained, the actual firmament was still clear, and the frozen realm was lit by moon and stars both. Having gotten a taste of the most comfortable warmth, the new couple decided that they could withstand a night in the dog room (especially since there were no dogs present), so they moved over their things and went to bed in short fashion.

The other couple soon began to prepare for the night as well, but I stayed up reading for a while, and then had a light snack. By then it was actually less cold than before, and the clouds had contracted their encircling wall. It still wasn't nearly enough to obscure the moon, however – the sheen outside was simply astounding. I then crawled into bed myself and read for a bit before turning in at 21:30.



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