After a partial change of clothes I went to have dinner, and afterwards I had a sauna together with Lars; there I also met the Swiss man who had been my roommate in Alesjaure. I took it easy for the rest of the evening, and outside it was snowing lightly.
I slept through the night and felt refreshed when I woke up, although I had some ache in my triceps from all the arm work on Visttasjohka. It was blowing fairly much outside, and there was much snow being propelled off the ground. The afternoon held the conclusion to a long process, namely that of a possible warden assignment this summer – I was offered, and finally accepted, the custodianship of the Sĺmmarlappa cottage on the Padjelanta Trail, a couple of days out from Kvikkjokk, from the middle of August until closing. Great!
In the restaurant that evening it was really calm at first, but then everyone seemed to come in at once and we got to show our quality. Pretty much the rest of those who had been in the Alesjaure sauna with me showed up, as well as an old classmate who has been working in Abisko for several years and was now visiting Marita. It turned out that the workload was so high that we needed to call in extra help from the reception desk (which had nothing much to do, since everyone was in the restaurant anyway), and Johanna L got to spend an hour or two with the dishwasher. It was getting worse outside again and some surprisingly strong gusts creaked the walls as we worked our way through the post processing.
The hard wind continued through the night but except for that the morning was fair indeed. Apparently a guest had fallen ill during the night, citing stomach flu as the likely cause, and we were also told that the disease had been discovered in Singi, so it was obviously still not contained – but none in the staff had been affected, thankfully. I joined a film-watching event in Videovagge before working at dinner, which despite a fair number of clients went really well. Afterwards the wind had petered out and the clouds that had come in during the day were mostly dissolved.
This time I stayed in bed until almost 10, feeling snug against the wind which to no one's surprise had returned in full force. One immediate effect of its recent onslaught was that the valley was almost bare, and it was obvious that the snow-vehicle transports would not be able to go on for much longer. After a late and light breakfast I ran into Olof who was the first of the staff to leave, so I bade him farewell. Later in the day the wind was accompanied by rain, which wreaked havoc with the scant snow that still remained. I watched half a movie and two episodes of Twin Peaks back to back, and then it was almost time for dinner, after which the rain really poured down (or rather sideways, due to the wind) for a while. Another movie of the longer variety followed, to the background accompaniment of strong gales, but at least all the stars were out when I was going to bed.
After another night of much wind another morning of rain followed. I had the afternoon cleaning shift, which went by without incident or heavy load, and the afternoon was very warm. At dinner Erik was somewhat distraught – he was unsure whether he would even be able to get back to Nikkaluokta, so this put a definite stop to any and all snowmobile runs ferrying tourists to and from the station.
Hard wind (17 m/s in average and peaks around 25 – it was uncertain whether or not the "replacement" helicopter would be able to land) and low clouds again, with temperatures well above freezing. Cleaning was easy once more, and we talked to a few guests who had decided to stay for another night due to the wind. The helicopter did come and took some people away, but the margin was not wide, and later on wind strengths increased even further. After I had finished for the day I reserved a train ticket home and watched some TP, and by then there was a fair bit of blue sky and it wasn't blowing so hard anymore.
Following dinner I went for a stroll down in the valley, rounding Mastberget (Antenna Hill) on ground that was free of snow in most places. In the evening we played multi-person table tennis until after midnight, to our great amusement and exhaustion.
I had a moderately early start in the restaurant, but the adventures of the night were not yet making themselves felt. It was windy and warm, and it had thawed even more all around, a process being further accelerated by some fresh rain. In the afternoon Petter and I went for a walk down to Láddjujohka, where the wind was stronger, and back, and after that the rain returned in force and everything was grey and dull. I slept for a while and then went to work, having an almost relaxing time at a very calm dinner. More table tennis followed after closing.
There was snow blowing around in the air, and a few of the flakes had attached themselves to the ground, but it made no real difference. We had been ordered to start sending as much luggage as possible to Nikkaluokta with returning choppers, since the space during the final transfer after closing would be limited, so I commenced packing. I did, however, decide to keep the skis for a while longer, coldly presupposing that I would be able to have them transported during the last week. In the afternoon visibility had improved much with a bit of sunlight, but there was still snow on and off. Eventually I decided to go for a run in Personalbacken – a run which I believed to be the last one.
I went up in the left groove, and even though there was an ice layer on top of the snow it was so thin that it offered no resistance, silently yielding to the soft snow beneath. Above the dead reindeer – which was now, shall we say, much picked on – the snow was harder, and the wind was stronger, and all the time it was snowing. When I reached a bare patch above Storsten I stopped to take off the climbing skins and then I set off down the right groove. Going in that direction, the snow showed no signs of the previous softness, and my skis rattled against the surface as I turned. After a while I had developped a technique which fitted the conditions, and things were going well, but I did have a fall which prompted quite an extensive slide down the hard surface before I was able to check the motion. When the snow was coming to an end near the bottom of the slope I went over to the left groove, which was covered all the way down, and I passed a bit to the west over the ridge extending from Kaipak.
Feeling that I had earned it, I went to the sauna, and apparently I was the only one to have that feeling for I was alone there. After dinner the weather had cleared, allowing for a fair and chilly evening, but the wind remained. I finished packing my bag and performed a thorough check of the room to ascertain that I had included everything I wanted/needed to include – and nothing else – and then I placed it in the appropriate location for ferrying-off on the morrow.
The clouds had not returned during the night, and the wind was only light. Cleaning was very easy – there weren't that many guests, and what guests there were behaved themselves – so we got some extra tasks from the janitor. Pontus had gone off with a group along the eastern trail to the Peak in the morning, but two of the participants had turned around before even reaching Jökelbäcken, and those two had paid for a helicopter ride up instead (Maria and Johanna L managed to sneak along).
After lunch a number of other choppers arrived, carrying both Hans, Marita and Ilkka (who had been on a short vacation) and provisions for the restaurant and shop, so we then got to carry some stuff for a while. It was rather warm outside, but by then a thin veil had stretched across the sky. Only a few things remained to be done, and after that I went off on a small expedition with Sofia and Johanna W, who had been talking about it all day and invited me to join; Johanna had made the same journey yesterday, and was eager to repeat it.
In the evening clouds were rolling in from the west, but they seemed to stick around the peaks. Inside I finally scored a triumph against technology – the corridor lights in Skarta are controlled by motion detectors, and throughout the season it had been a pastime of mine to try and fool the one in my corridor whenever I walked through it in darkness; I had never been able to traverse the length of the hallway before, but this time I actually managed to slip by without triggering the lights! Go, me!
Another day of easy cleaning and extra tasks, this time consisting mostly of preparing for the arrival of a large group of military men. By lunchtime, when we were visited by the Tarfala warden, it was snowing lightly, and later in the day the snowfall had increased to heavy – heavy enough that this time it actually had an effect! Having finished all tasks I played table tennis with Petter, Magnus and Pontus, and the snow kept falling in massive quantities. The rest of the afternoon progressed without much to note – except for the blessed snow – and then it was pie night in the canteen.
In the evening Anna A and Nina were organizing a cheese and crackers night in response to Anna's birthday, which was also a calm event, and during its course the snowfall finally ceased. I went to bed around 23, since I would be working the next day, but most of the others remained in the common room.
The snowy clouds had all gone away to the east, and it was cold and nearly still; the fresh snow had restored proper whiteness to the land and everything was just beautiful. Cleaning started out easy but we had things to do all the way until lunch, by when I caught wind of an imminent sortie to the ice cave in the Hydrologist groove that falls from the Giebmečohkka plateau to Darfálvággi, and since I had finished for the day I signed up for it.
As the departing group had grown since the inception there was some synchronizing to be done before we could leave, and a growing number of people waited for quite a long time out in the sun along Skarta's southern wall. Some clouds that had appeared in the forenoon were now dissipating again, and the wind remained light.
Petter, Hĺkan and I decided to have a sauna before dinner, which put the time of the latter much later than usual, and I enjoyed it especially much once I got my hands on it. The evening was entirely clear and crisp, with a beautiful light playing over the peaks – perfect conditions for Twin Peaks...
The day started with Tobbe turning one year older and then promptly leaving, being the second member of the staff to do so. I worked at breakfast in the restaurant and this day the guests ate like hell, so it was good that we were three in the staff for once. On another positive note was that while I did have some pain from yesterday's fall, it was much milder than feared, and only came in certain bodily positions. After lunch we had two large groups from Ice Hotel Adventure that came by helicopter, which took some time and effort. I also met Göran again, who was now leading a KE Travel group, and we chatted a bit. Table tennis and a humor night in Videovagge followed.
The morning was fully overcast but with a high base, and the temperature was on the positive side. I ran into Göran in the shop and we talked for a bit, and then there was more table tennis and humor. A weak but warming sun shone through the clouds and the snow was clearly on its way to oblivion again, so Petter and I made plans for a final(?) excursion in the afternoon, going to the sports shop to ready some equipment just before lunch. During this both Sofia and Hĺkan attached themselves to our little group.
Dinner consisted of barbecued burgers, prepared in front of Skarta, and I saw fit to subject myself to the smoke before showering. Besides, I was hungry. In the evening there was Twin Peaks and table tennis, and some general silliness in the common room.