It had snowed during the night, and was still doing so in the morning, with a fresh shroud covering the silent world. After a quick breakfast the first helicopter came and started ferrying us away, a process which went rather quickly but still required six turns. Down in Nikkaluokta we collected our luggage from storage and started stuffing it into the various vehicles that were headed for Abisko – most of us were going there for a joint season finale together with the staff at Abisko tourist station and Saltoluokta.
However, as the last chopper had landed, some of us overheard its pilot saying that he was also off to Abisko in a few minutes, and a quick inquiry revealed that, indeed, he would be happy to bring five passengers. Pontus, Petter, Håkan, Sofia and I were the lucky – or, rather, fast enough – ones, so we said a quick good-bye to the others and then climbed into the flying machine.
Had the weather been clear – or clearer – the pilot would have flown through Visttasvággi towards Alisjávri, and then mostly followed Kungsleden (Royal Trail) to Abisko, but as it was he saw fit not to push it, and instead chose to go east of the gentle massifs that make up the northeastern wall of the aforementioned valley, aiming for Rávttasjávri instead. When we closed in on that lake it was evident that conditions weren't any better there, so we continued east for a while before turning to the north again, rounding the higher formations and coming up on Abisko from the east. During that last portion the clouds gradually lifted, and when we touched down it was actually sunny – but the sky was still mostly covered.
Since the helicopter pad in question lies several kilometers from the tourist station, we went down to the nearby Abisko Mountain Lodge to investigate the possibility of transport. While we waited the clock struck 09:00, which meant that the reception at the tourist station was open, and after a quick call a janitor was on his way with a pickup. Once at the station we were given our room keys and installed ourselves. There was some more slacklining while we awaited the arrival of the land-bound travellers, who started dropping in around noon.
In the afternoon the others went off somewhere, but I felt tired and so took a nap instead, and when I awoke the sky was clear – the blue hole of Abisko is a well-known concept. This was the final weekend of the season at the station, and as a special event there was a group of African dancers (well, the dancers weren't African, but the dance and music were) who were set for several interactive performances, the first of which we attended/participated in that same evening.
Today was ski day. One could either go to Björkliden or Riksgränsen, and we were a group (Pontus, Håkan, Tosse, Petter, Lars, Sofia, and I) who chose the latter. This involved a fairly short journey by train to the Norwegian border (which is what the name of the place refers to), and after arriving Håkan and I, who had no alpine skis, and Lars, who had no poles, went to the rental place while the other guys started skiing. By the time we were fitted we had no idea where the rest of our original company was, so we decided to go on ourselves – except for Sofia, who elected to walk up the mountain rather than purchase a lift pass.
The clouds in the sky were shifting position, sometimes revealing large stretches of blue, but just as we – which then also included a friend of Håkan's whom we had hooked up with – went off to climb Norddalsfjället – which has no lifts – they lowered themselves, enveloping the top of the mountain in mist. The way down was white at first, but after a bit visibility was restored, and it was a good run in any event. Shortly thereafter we encountered everyone else at once, and after the sub-group to which I had belonged had had the chance to get something to eat we skied together for a while, before we were once again divided. Any thoughts of another trip up and down Norddalsfjället were squashed by a hard wind that grew into existence, and even worse cloudiness higher up, so we stayed among the lifts until it was time to go back down to the train station.
Back in Abisko, after an improvised informal après/after-ski and a good sauna, there was a formal-but-familiar welcoming event and a dinner party in the evening, with yet another barbecue session providing the food. Then there was more of the African dancing, after which a good many of us stayed up making increasingly bad jokes until people started drifting off to their respective rooms.
A few people went to Riksgränsen today too, to take advantage of the reappearing fine weather, but most stayed in Abisko. After having breakfast and packing up my stuff, I went over to Abisko naturum where I scrutinized everything on display, and then it was almost time for lunch. The majority of those who were leaving were doing so on the 12:35 southbound train, so they walked off soon thereafter; I helped Petter carry his gargantuan bag over to the train station, but as I wouldn't leave until 16:55 I just waved them off.
Lars was also staying behind, and upon returning to the tourist station we went off for a walk in the sun, following Ábeskoeatnu down towards Torneträsk. We didn't go all the way down, however, since there is a bird sanctuary at the river mouth the restrictions of which had come into effect on May 1, so instead we took off on another path – a path which did lead us to the water a bit later. We proceeded along the shoreline until we reached the old building Sjöstugan, where the captain and his sailor lived back when STF had boat operations on the vast lake, but which has now been converted to a firewood-powered sauna. We then continued in a southeastern direction, losing and regaining the path, and eventually reaching Abisko Scientific Research Station, from which we traced the main car road back to the station.
Panorama over Čuonjávággi, Nissonvággi and Ballinvággi –
and the fjelds making up their walls, of course
Those in the Abisko staff who were free – either for the day or just on break – were sitting against the south-facing wall of the dining room, or lying on the grass in front of it, so we walked over and joined them. We spent quite some time there, and even obtained an ice cream each by coincidence; it was very warm and nice, and we had a good view of the shiningly white line of mountains that for some peculiar reason go under the name Abiskoalperna – the Alps of Abisko. Eventually the time of our own departure drew near, and we ourselves drew in at the train station.
On the train we were reunited with Håkan, who had embarked in Riksgränsen after a fantastic day of skiing, and there was also an Abisko worker in our compartment. Having installed ourselves properly – which took some time, seeing as we all had plenty of luggage and the compartments aren't spacious – the three of us went to the restaurant cart to have dinner, and then we spent the rest of the evening playing cards.
And with the end of that came finally the end of an adventure of sorts – perhaps one to be continued at a later date...