Despite having slept well I felt tired when I arose at 7:00 and looked out the window at low clouds and mist across Torneträsk. The ground was wet from nightly rain, but none was falling at the moment. I packed up and cleaned as much as I could, and then went to breakfast where I joined and was joined by everyone else. After finishing up in my room I went outside to wait for departure, and by that time it had started to rain again. I also discovered that the dog belonging to Anders and Tina, the Sälka wardens, was of quite a large variety, but despite its imposing size it was rather shy. The departure in question was to be conducted by way of a minibus driven by one of Abisko's guides, for the simple reason that the regular tourist bus lines would not start their summer schedule until the coming Friday – which was also our official opening date out in the field, so there was little choice in the matter.
At first the rain increased in force, then died down, only to pick up again close to Kiruna. As we sped along the Nikkaluokta road things gradually improved, save for a short bout, but the clouds remained low. Apart from Anders, Tina and myself the bus brought Tobias, Lisa and their three small children; they wouldn't be walking all the way to Singi with them, so having reached our destination they went off to check their helicopter ride while the rest of us went inside the visitors' center (which was open) for a while. I got to talking a bit with Henrik Sarri, the brother of the more famous late Enok Sarri, which was a pleasant way to spend the time – I recommend it to all who pass by. Anders and Tina had slipped away in the meantime, and it was after 11:15 when I "chased" after them.
The clouds were slowly growing lighter, and the rain continued to hold itself at bay. The rucksack felt fine, despite the considerable additions from Abisko, and it was not too long before I had to open up the wind jacket to let some warmth out, but the air itself did not hold much. A part of the trail here has been covered in gravel to alleviate the wear, but soon it was back to the wide, stony swath. After a while I caught up with the others, and we walked together. The ground was dry for the most part, and it was getting lighter all the time, to the point where a patch of blue sky could be seen. A couple of people were busy working at Ladtjojaure, and another four were standing out on the boat jetty, but the boat itself was still securely moored and not yet operational.
I had walked ahead and sat down on a bench after 12:30, where I was soon joined by my colleagues. The sun had come out, and I didn't bother with anything but the jacket I already had on. The quartet headed back towards Nikkaluokta, and a single guy came and went. I had lunch while the others contented themselves with some candy. We chatted briefly with the workers, and then were on our way again.
It soon got warmer and conditions steadily improved ahead, but soon a light shower hit, which I largely ignored. I pressed on in the lead, noting that the path was better here, and passed another two people before coming to the path to the upper boat jetty, where the guy from the lunch break was sitting – and the men from Ladtjojaure were at the jetty itself preparing for the coming boat tours. The single guy turned out to be a Kebnekaisian chef-to-be, and had deliberately skipped the helicopter in favor of walking the distance himself. After a while Anders and Tina (and Nallo, the pooch) also arrived, and we had a joint break before I went on ahead again.
The weather shifted back and forth between sun, wind and light rain, and the portion past Darfáloalgi was a bit tricky both due to the lay of the land, with boulders and suchlike, and traces of recent storms – ironically, a tree had fallen precisely across the "medition spot" set up there. Once out of the protection of Darfáloalgi, the wind increased appreciably, but so did the sunlight. The last bit to the Darfáljohka bridge felt long and included the tour's first contact with snow. A second, more extensive contact followed after said bridge, after which I walked over a series of long narrow rises. The last crest presented even more in the way of wind, and I stood there for a while waiting for the sun to come out from the cloud it was currently hiding behind. There were some workers outside the station when I arrived after 16:15, apparently in the process of constructing a stairway between the main building and the service building.
I went inside despite the "closed" sign on the door, and found the place to be much refurbished since my time there (and my most recent visit). I soon caught the attention of Emma, who had made a special reservation for me and my colleagues, and talked some with her – apparently there was also work going on with the main building's toilets, which meant that only those in the service building were available at the moment. I carried up my rucksack to one of the older sleeping compartments – which are my favorite anyway – and then ran into Hans Norén, who had been the manager of the place when I worked there, and is now situated in Abisko – except for the time in question, when he was on an exercise with the alpine group of the fjeld rescue service. I dumped my fresh food in the restaurant for cooling, and then went to the service building to have a bit of a wash (but no sauna).
After some quiet time in the common room I went over to Jägaren, the simpler building where dogs are allowed, and talked with Anders and Tina – but Nallo was still in his reserved state. I returned to the common room and looked through all the papers I had received in Abisko, being interrupted by a phone call – still within the reach of civilization. More people were filing in, and eventually we were let into the restaurant where we were treated to a dinner with the staff (those who had arrived, anyway) and the alpine group. This dinner was on a whole other level than the one in Abisko, especially with regard to quantity – no need to compensate by dessert-hogging here. The clouds that had covered the peaks all day were finally lifting, but the wind had turned cold. I rested a bit before deciding to turn in for real at 22:30, feeling a bit sore, this being the first day and all.