The morning came with an unbroken but high cloud cover, and after breakfast this cover started disintegrating. Since the wind of the last few days had obliterated the previous privy path I made a new one, this time on the other side of the building, where the wind had not had the same effect. The sky was now clearing in full, and I prepared for the first of many true day tours while the Germans made another attempt at Sälka. I said goodbye to the Dane, who was taking it easy, and after shutting off the heater in my room I left for Vistas around 09:45.
When I got back the cottage was empty, and there were no signs of any visits during the day either. Some low clouds were approaching from the east, which before long had settled all around. As darkness was now about to fall I expected to see the first lone night of the season – and as it was to turn out, it would be far from the last. I spent the evening reading, resting and listening to the radio, feeling pretty tired. Outside the clouds were still hanging low, but they gave no snow and temperatures were on the mild side.
After a good night's sleep I found that the clouds were breaking apart; it would be a fair day. After the usual morning procedures I put a few food items into a freezer box which I in turn put out into the snow, and then I made a food pack for another day tour. The clouds were still about, shifting to and fro, but the general tendency was that it was growing lighter, starting from the south. The time was 09:15 when I left the cottage, this time headed for the famed Unna Räita cabin in the middle of the equally famed Unna Reaiddávággi.
Also this time I returned to an empty house, but now there were both tracks in the snow outside and in the guestbook inside. One of the temporary guests had in fact been so enamored with the cloth badge of the cottage (there is one unique to every STF cottage site) that he had nicked the sample stapled to the notice board and left money in the day fee can. I relaxed inside while the temperature fell outside; the evening was another one of the marvelous variety, this time augmented by a new moon which made for a very special light. There was some wind and a few small clouds had started forming around the higher peaks, which only added to the splendor of the scene. I had a quiet evening before letting tiredness dictate terms, resulting in an early entering of bed well before the otherwise holy late weather forecast.
After another good night's sleep it was low clouds and light snowfall that I woke up to, and it was still and a few below. Following the morning meal I went out to dig a new privy path, returning to the east side of the building but this time putting it closer to the wall, delving all the way through the drift down to the ground. I also made a half serious attempt at a path to the woodshed, upon reaching which I continued with the sawing project – the sawing itself was nothing to speak of, but some of the logs were really, really heavy, so getting them into the sawbuck was sometimes one heck of a job. Through it all it remained cloudy and mostly snowy as well, and I kept doing my thing up until lunch.
During this meal the smoke detector in the vestibule went off yet again, so now I decided to scrap it altogether. A lone German coming from Vistas provided another interruption, and then there came two more from that direction; these were the two sled-pulling people I had met when coming back from Vistas myself two days past. I went back to the logs while the pair went out for a shorter tour up the ravine slope. It was now clearing slightly, but large drifting clouds remained to conceal the peaks most of the time.
After dinner these clouds had mostly dissipated as well, leaving a bit of evening light upon the peaks. I spent some time with the guests, during which I found out that while the pair were German too (and I had spoken only English with them thus far), they did in fact speak rather good Swedish; since the lone fellow did not, however, the conversation was a curious mix of the three languages. I had now worked out a workable method of extracting acceptable results from the imprinter, so payment posed no problem. Some clouds had returned to obscure the sky, followed by an appreciable easterly wind, but at least the former shrank back as the evening progressed. I went to bed at 22:15, reading some before turning off the light.
Also this morning came with snow and whiteness, and the mild air temperature remained as well. All the guests were soon on their way, and now a bit of sunlight was breaking through, painting the mountainsides in warm hues. This did not last for long, however, as the wind swiftly brought in a rather low cloud which in very short fashion turned the world all white and snowy. It took a long time for it to pass, and I spent this time by attacking a good deal of logs with the saw. It was also getting warmer, which caused a good deal of dripping from the roof. Unfortunately this also spread to the ceiling in my room, and I had to put out a few receptacles and try to seal the leaks with tape.
Later on I decided I had had enough of sitting inside, so I went up the adjacent slope. The southwestern arm of Stuor Reaiddávággi could be seen fairly clearly – at least the floor of it – and from time to time parts of the Sealggá massif far off emerged. For a while it seemed as though the clouds were going to lift, but instead there came another snow-bringer from the east, enveloping me in impenetrable mist as I stood at an intermediate crest. I started descending, which was pretty much a hopeless affair; the whiteout erased any and all hints of the shape of the slope. After a bit I could discern the buildings further down, but the snow underneath my skis was still a mystery. Once I was down again the haze did lift somewhat, so I went up again. Suddenly the sun burst through, and I wasted no time but immediately started another run – which was infinitely better.
The rest of the afternoon I spent inside, with radio and books as company. I also overheard a conversation on the assistance phone – someone was about 20 km west of Ritsem, where the sun was apparently shining from a clear sky. Huh. Come dinnertime, however, it started to clear at my location as well, only to return to low clouds and snowfall after an hour or so. Around bedtime, though, this setback had itself suffered a setback, as I could now see all surrounding peaks and ridges after acclimatizing my eyes to the darkness.
Another morning – another setback, and there was no sign of colder weather yet. Forecasts and breakfast done, I went out to check on the gas connections; as it turned out, both tubes connecting the canisters to the piping exhibited cracks, and I could also smell a bit of leaking gas. Now started a long procedure of trying to exchange these for new ones, which was complicated by unyielding cap threads and a lack of suitable replacements or replacement parts. Eventually I got it all worked out, making a thorough ocular, olfactory and auditory inspection which yielded no signs of trouble. Having restored function to the internal stoves I set about baking two sets of bread, as I had eaten the last of what I had initially brought in the morning.
In the afternoon the weather was clearing, and when the process had gone far enough I put on my skis and went up The Slope. Even as I ascended the last bits of cloud were torn apart and wavered out of existence, leaving a fresh-looking mountainous realm behind. After passing the crest I continued in a roughly southwestern direction, stopping at some rocks close to the edge of the main Čeakčačohkka glacier. There I remained standing, awed by the vistas spreading out before me; especially Reaiddáčohkka showed a striking profile from this perspective. It was not until the sun was about to pass behind Čeakčačohkka, landing me in a chilling shadow, that I turned back. The descent was very good and very fun, and it was quite obvious that colder weather was now on its way.
The evening was very fair, with more of the ethereal light of the half moon. No guests this night either, so I sat alone in my room listening to the radio and reading a captivating story of how a lone man survived an avalanche in Norway the other year – that man was in fact one of the three Dutchmen who arrived on my first day, and he donated the booklet to Nallo in person. Later in the evening the moonlight was joined by the atmospherical phenomenon known as guovssahas to the Sámi, putting a nice end to a day which despite a dreary start turned out really fine.
In line with the previous evening, the morning was as beautiful as one can ask for. Having had no guests I finished up early, without thinking resolving to take advantage of the fair weather, which was realized as a visit to Sälka starting just after 08:30.
Stepping into the cottage I found the German woman who had just left Sälka when I was arriving, as well as a group of four Swedes who had elected to heat up the rather cold – and thitherto unused – eastern room. These Swedes were also the first of my countrymen to come my way since the start of the season; for some reason the early season (and especially pre-season) is wholly dominated by foreigners – chiefly Germans. I changed into leisure clothes and went in to the group for a chat, and then the German lady delivered the bun from Maj-Lis in Sälka that I had been told about. There was some intermittent snowfall and wind, and later on the clouds let the moon shine through a few holes. I listened to the Swedish finals of the ESC on the radio with some popcorn and then turned in.
The new day came with more wind, which had half erased the tracks from the day before, but visibility-wise it was fine even though soon a thin mist filled out the contrasts. The weather was not in any way bad, so the quartet was going to Unna Räita, and I myself eventually decided to go up to the steep start of Šielmmávággi proper to check out the route to Tjäktja; the risk for avalanches was not insignificant, so I wanted to make an investigation before advising people on that passage.
I left the cottage at 10:15, following the ravine at moderately close range on the northern side. At times the snow felt rather soft and unreliable, and at some point I backtracked a bit to take another route. Off in the direction of Sälka it was all white, but where I was a heavily veiled sun provided some contrast. On the crest I came across another staple of the Nallo-Tjäktja region: fresh wolverine tracks, but as usual there was no sign of the animal itself. Having reached the start of the steep slope up to the pass I went up at a not too shallow angle, stopping frequently to try the robustness of the top layer with my skis. When the incline increased I took off said skis and started digging a shaft to have a look at the other layers, finding that the bottom one was very hard and very thick, the middle one fairly hard and fairly thick, and the top one loose and varying in depth – in other words, good conditions.
I put the skis back on and continued zigzagging my way up, doing the "ski pole test" at regular intervals to check the slope's angle, which at no point along my path exceeded the classic safety mark of 25°. The last bit up to the first crest I covered among snow-binding rocks, finding one large enough to serve as back support for a lunch break at 11:30. Visibility up the pass was pretty bad, but in the other direction the various peaks made irregular displays of themselves. After about 45 minutes of immobility I got up and started going down, where I could now see more of the landscape. I followed my own tracks all the way down to the lake, at the eastern end of which I broke off onto the flat outrunner, taking The Slope down to the cottage – which provided an excellent run.
There were some new sets of skis outside, and inside I found their owners in the form of a new Swedish quartet. The German lady had chosen to rest for a day, and she was interested to hear what I had learnt about the Tjäktja route in case she was to take it the following day. After an ablution session I went over to the new people, while the weather grew a bit worse on the other side of the walls. Then a lone Norwegian with German roots came from the east, having started in Alesjaure in the morning, which was soon followed by the return of the Unna Räita group; they had had a nice enough time on site, but on the way back they had lost all visual contact with the surroundings. The evening saw no change in the weather, and nothing but tranquil acts followed until it was time to hit the sack.