I woke up at 06:45, feeling refreshed and comfortably warm, even though the temperature in the room was somewhat cool. I stayed put for half an hour before getting up; the older couple was up and about already. The morning offered continued fair weather with nary a cloud in sight, but it was rather cold and the wind had grown greatly in strength during the night. I waited for the sun to climb above the eastern ridge, and then made breakfast.
When I was just about done, the younger couple arose, by which time the other two were almost ready to leave. They didn't do so immediately, however, but instead went to fetch water and firewood. The warden came in with the weather report for the day: clear, -15°C, and 8 m/s northeasterly/southeasterly wind. The other four were going to Stensdalen, and would be facing that wind almost all the time, whereas my route to Sylarna would put it constantly at my back.
I left at 09:30, and since the first 5 km or so involve nothing but descending to the base of Gåsen – helped by the wind – it wasn't long before I had reached the shelter at Gåsån, where I made a brief stop. After crossing Gåsån itself, I followed the warden's advice and broke off the trail, aiming for the mast atop Fruntimmersklumpen in the distance. The reason for doing so is that the marked trail goes straight up Östra Endalshöjden – a vertical distance of about 200 m – and then straight down again, but by taking a more southerly route one can avoid that. This is only advisable in clear weather, however, since the terrain in question is quite flat and open, with few if any landmarks, so one needs the constituent mountains of the Sylarna massif as a directional guide.
Out on the open land like that, the wind was a ruthless force; there was considerable snow drift on Helags and other rises, and I soon stopped to put on a pair of mittens underneath the gloves, to keep my fingers from freezing. Soon thereafter, as I was trying to take a photo, the camera decided that the voltage from the batteries was too low and shut itself off. Not wanting to begin rummaging through the rucksack and subsequently perform such an agile task as changing four batteries in an exposed position like that, I shrugged and skied on.
When I had gotten to Handölan, I felt hungry, so I just continued a little ways up the slope on the other side, and stopped below a small, flat hill. Up until then, during all my tours, the windsack had just been "that safety equipment thing which takes up space and weight" due to almost excessively favorable weather conditions, but now it finally got to serve its purpose. I dug a small pit, drove my skies into the snow and pulled the sack over them, and sat myself down inside to eat at 11:15. The fabric was flapping rather violently, but it provided excellent shelter from the wind, which was now steadily southeasterly but unchanged in power. In fact, it was so sheltered that I never bothered to put on some extra clothing, and I was certainly no worse off for it. I also took the opportunity to change the camera's batteries.
Although most of my body experienced no particular chill, that did not apply to the feet. When they started feeling cold, I packed up and prepared to leave; I was on my way again by noon. I gained some height on the not-so-steep portion of the wide slope, and then pretty much held that line, aiming for the northern end of Fruntimmersklumpen. That was apparently an intuitive route, for I detected old fragments of a ski track here and there. Having passed the crest, the track split into two parallel ones, which were clearer than before. Given the lay of the land and the recent nature and direction of the wind, I reckoned that whoever came that way must have done so within the past couple of days. By the time I was approaching the trail, I was following at least four separate tracks, and on the trail itself there was one which looked suspiciously fresh; it is likely that someone had come from Sylarna that morning and followed the trail over the rise, thereby missing me by several kilometers.
As I began climbing the base of Fruntimmersklumpen, I perceived the wind to be stronger, and I couldn't see the landscape clearly that far ahead due to snow whirling up from the ground. After a while I caught sight of the Gamla Sylen shelter, but instead of going down to it and onto the trail from Storulvån, I cut across the slope to my left, heading directly for the station. Again, as it turned out, I had shared that thought with other people – it wasn't long before I spotted more old tracks following my present course exactly. However, the wind was a real problem now – all the day, I had had it at my back, where the rucksack caught most of it, but now I was proceeding almost directly against it. The snow was very icy, too, so advancing was difficult, and I began descending towards the trail.
While snow conditions there were better, the wind was (naturally) the same, so I had to make use of all protective devices available in my clothing, and I stopped often to turn my back to the howl and let my cheeks recover a bit. About halfway between Gamla Sylen and the station, I saw two figures in the white drift ahead, which soon resolved into two women going downhill, but otherwise I was alone. Finally, at 14:00, I arrived at the station.
I don't know exactly how strong a wind there had been, since the station's wind meter was broken, but the most recent weather forecast said 13 m/s. That may well have been true – in any event it was clearly stronger than the last time I skied to Sylarna under such conditions, and then the strength was measured as 8 m/s. It must have been over 10, at least, but this time the weather was otherwise clear, with good visibility – performing that journey in an actual blizzard would have been hard indeed.
There didn't seem to be that many guests around, although I later learnt that there was in fact a week-long, 20-person course in digital photography in progress, that had the station as its base. Having settled in properly, this time in a four-bed room for myself, I went to have a longed-for sauna. I was joined by a pair of guys and a middle-aged fellow later on, so there wasn't exactly a rush. The wind didn't blow fully as much later in the afternoon, but it was still hard. It also seemed to keep any and all clouds at bay, for the sky remained an unbroken blue dome. Some people trickled in, and I could detect both American and German voices among the residents of the station.
As the time for dinner drew near, I bought a liter of milk in the small shop – I needed some both for the pasta sauce and for the chocolate mousse I intended to have for dessert, and what was left did nicely as a replacement for the usual drinking water. I prepared the meal at around 17:30, and placed myself at a table with a good view of the massif in the large dining room. The photo course apparently was all-inclusive – Sylarna's fjeld station is the only one among STF's line that doesn't have a restaurant, but the participants of said course had their meals (which by the sound and looks of it were rather excellent) served.
After dinner, I rummaged through the local library, as it were, and sat down to read in the common area by the reception. Most of the guests prepared their respective repasts after me, so the dining room was pretty noisy – especially with the photographers chatting away over the projects of the day – while it was calm where I was. There were also a few latecomers who arrived well after dark.
For whatever reason, I felt really tired in the evening, and decided not to fight it much. I went to have my vital snack, which I did in the "company" of a good number of people still up, and then withdrew to my room. I lay down in bed at 21:15 and read for a while before turning off the light.