The morning was clear with just a few light clouds, and I slept well right up to the early forecast. After breakfast I removed the sheets from my bed and put them into the transport box, relying on the silk travel sheet for the final night, and then I finished up in the eastern room save for the final scouring of the floor. After that I went out to the outbuilding to prepare for garbage storage, and brought in the off-season stuff for the western room. These I then started to distribute inside, during which I found two unbroken noodle packages underneath one of the mattresses.
Just then I heard a snowmobile outside, and went out to greet Jesper; Anders was on his way too and could just be seen on the southwestern crest. The purpose of this visit was the installation of a leakage indicator in the LPG system, and while we waited for Anders we talked a bit about present snow conditions and what that meant for the immediate future. When Anders still hadn't showed up Jesper went back to have a look, and it was some time before they both came down again – Anders's snowmobile had suddenly decided that this whole business with "even keel" was overrated, and instead set off tumbling down towards the ravine, sleigh and all. We talked some more before they decided to go make the installation at Vistas first, before the snow became too mushy, and I returned inside to finish packing my box which they would bring with them when they came back. I cleaned the kitchen section of the western room and then had lunch outside in the sun.
During the course of the afternoon I completed virtually all remaining tasks, taking a few breaks in the nice weather – and the continued avalanches accompanied it all. I had just started packing my rucksack when I heard engine sounds, and soon enough the two caretakers showed up. While Anders set about installing the indicator Jesper started moving the gas canisters over to the storage building – something which was required by stricter safety protocols laid down by the authorities, so mine would be the last warden period with conditions for easy exchange. As for the gas system it showed no leaks, and once everything was finished at that end I went over to help carry (or drag) the canisters into storage. We then agreed upon the transport plans for the morrow, after which the others left for Sälka and I had dinner and a last dessert.
The evening was mostly still and exceptionally fair – again – and I could see that just during these last few days the snow cover on the northwest peaks had lessened considerably, bringing out even more bare rock. I went through some papers and then made an entry of my own on the accommodation records graph, equalling the previous year's top notation of 29. When I felt confident that I had seen all the guests there were to see, I sat down with the economic report, the resulting figures of which in the end met with my approval. When that was finished I had a sturdy evening snack and then went to bed for the last time in Nallo this winter – and for the 15th time I did so in an empty cottage.
As I had no particular need to know the coming weather anymore I slept over the morning broadcast, and when I went out the previously clear sky was no longer clear in the least, but the warmth in the air lingered. Following my last cottage breakfast I turned off the LPG system and started packing up the last bits, and then sat down to write the customary letter to the summer warden(s). A light drizzle had now started outside, but there was also a bit of weak sunlight at times, and it was still quite calm. I spent the rest of the forenoon cleaning the warden's room thoroughly and finishing all garbage-related activities, and when I was down I had lunch outside on the bench (no rain). I completed the few remaining tasks and made a package of my skis and poles, and then I settled down to wait for my transport, listening to the radio and reading some to pass the time.
As it turned out not much time had to be passed, for at 13:45 Anders and Jesper showed up, having taken the shortcut through Šielmmávággi. I put on some more clothes for the coming trip and locked everything that should be locked, and then called the police to announce my departure. When all was said and done – and loaded – I took my place behind Jesper, and off we went! Going up the first slope was a peculiar affair; since there is a considerable lateral slant both drivers hung out far to the other side to compensate, and I did my best to contribute to a safe center of mass.
Once we were safely up on Reaiddájávri we picked up speed, and I noted that the sky above and ahead was lighter than it had been around Nallo; in fact the clouds seemed to be lifting all around just now, with the peak of Šielmmáčohkka just touching the ceiling behind. The descent into Čeakčavággi was rather uneven, and some minor bare patches had to be crossed before we found ourselves in Sälka, where Rolf and Britt-Marie were all but ready to leave. I talked some with them while the caretakers gassed up their vehicles; there were also five late guests present who would remain in the year-round cottage after closure. Following the filling of tanks came some rearrangement of cargo, and then we left for Singi – Britt-Marie sitting behind Anders and Rolf half lying backwards on the sleigh behind Jesper and me.
We proceeded on a direct heading towards Čeakčajohka, which we then followed almost to the bridge beneath Mádir. Snow conditions were still pretty good for the most part, but virtually every little hill in the valley showed a bare top. In passing the outrunner from Siŋŋičohkka we found that the bareness had spread across the slopes as well, and it took some "heath-running" to reach safe snow again. We passed two lightly clad skiers during that portion, and as we were approaching the Singi cottages we saw two others just starting up the slope towards Kebnekaise. We stopped at Singi for a while, where I talked some with Barbro whom I was acquainted with from all the four visits to Sälka during the previous winter (and one prior to that) – she and Ove had finally tired of the shop and the sauna, and had therefore sought out a cottage site without special service this year. They were not to be carried off until later in the day, however, so the rest of us were soon on our way again.
The first stage up to the crest of the slope into Láddjuvággi required some serpentine action, passing the two skiers in the process, but once in the valley things were just fine. It was not until we emerged at the foot of Duolbagorni that conditions took a drastic turn for the worse; the distance to Lillberget took a fair bit of time and pathfinding to cover. The weather did, however, seem to be improving – when I glanced up Kitteldalen I could make out the South Peak readily enough. The transit of Lillberget also offered some tricky passages, but after that it was pretty good right up until the last upward slope. The time was almost 16 when we all disembarked on the yard behind Kebnekaise fjeld station, which for Rolf, Britt-Marie and myself symbolized a return to civilization.
After unloading etc. the caretakers prepared to depart for Singi again, and I brought my stuff up to the front side, going in through the personnel entrance – immediately running into Hans the station manager. We only had time to exchange a few words before he got a call, but Ilkka and Petter took his place for a while, and then I went out to the reception to surprise Marita, the other manager. Having done so Hans had managed to free himself from the phone, and he, Marita and I went to have a snack'n'talk. After that I dumped most of my things in the compartment I had been allotted for the night and then went to have a much longed-for sauna. As the men's facilities were undergoing reconstruction the women's counterpart served both sexes based on a schedule, and I had arrived just in time for the men's hour. Having cleansed myself properly I then went to have a similarly proper dinner in the restaurant, while the sun was breaking through outside.
Once there I found Rolf and Britt-Marie, and we sat down together at one of the windows. As it happened I then also had yet another encounter with Leif, who had met up with a companion at the station after completing the journey from Abisko. Dinner was excellent as expected, and while we were still at it Anders and Jesper came in with Ove and Barbro and joined us at the table. There were quite a bit of people about, and the restaurant seemed almost full – which was very dissimilar to the previous year, and the most obvious cause for this was of course the likewise dissimilar weather conditions.
After they had eaten Anders and Jesper set off again, this time heading for Kaitumjaure where they would spend the night before bringing the wardens there back for the morning snowmobile transport down to Nikkaluokta – the fact that these were still running said something about how the winter had been, and still was. The rest of us stayed behind for an hour or so more talking about this and that, and then I went over to another table to talk with Petter and Sara, who was to be one of the summer's wardens in – Nallo! Outside the sky had now cleared in full and it was rather a comfortable evening. I went around a bit inside looking things over – there were a number of differences from last year – and then I went to bed in a somewhat crowded room around 22:45.
I slumbered until 07:15, and finding the morning clear and warm I went out for a walk before breakfast, climbing Mastberget to get a good view of the valley. In the restaurant I found my Singi/Sälka colleagues, and we had a relaxed meal together. After breakfast I went out on the backside of the station, where Erik (Sarri) and his companions were preparing thr morning transport to Nikkaluokta. During this Anders came up with the Kaitumjaure people; Jesper's snowmobile had suffered a breakdown, so he was sitting in Singi at the moment. I talked for a bit with the various assembled wardens in the dazzling sunlight, and after some minor troubles the snowmobiles set off at 09:15, carrying a whole lot of people back down. Myself, I had decided to remain at Kebnekaise for another day, but what I had not yet decided was how to cover the distance to Nikkaluokta when the time came.
I returned inside and chatted with Petter while he did the post-breakfast cleaning in the restaurant, helping out a bit now that I was there. Hans then came in and we continued talking all three before Petter, Sara and I sat down for a forenoon snack. Not surprisingly the conversation was now centered upon wardenship, and especially wardenship in Nallo; after Petter's duties reclaimed him Sara and I remained in discussion for quite some time yet. More talks with Marita out in the reception followed, and then I went outside for a walk before lunch. This time I climbed Kaipak, and the snow carried really well despite the pressing warmth; a bank of clouds that had come in from the southeast did not alleviate things much. I made a circuit of the flat summit and then went down the same way, going in to have lunch with the rest of the staff at noon.
People came and went, and I sat through many a conversation before walking over to Skarta, the personnel building, to see if there was any news there (which there was). A few of the others were on their way out for a run in the Personnel slope (the southern slope of Giebmečohkka just above the station site), and eventually I decided that I would do the same. Clad very lightly I started climbing through the mushy snow without skins, mostly following the fresh tracks from the others, which went up the eastern one of the two main grooves.
When I had perhaps a hundred meters to go to Storsten the forerunners left the large rock and started down the western groove, and closer to my location I had just become aware of a pair of guys with snowshoes who were sitting on a bare strip of land relaxing; it was now very hot, especially since there was no wind either. After reaching Storsten myself I also skied over to the other groove – and upon turning downwards I found that the snow was so soft that persuading my fairly long skis to turn at all was difficult, and I didn't exactly remain upright that much during the first portion. A bit further down, however, things improved markedly, and in the last flatter slope down to the foot of Kaipak I could make some really slick turns.
Back down at the station I sat down on a bench at the southern wall of the old section and relaxed in the sun for a while. I then went over to Skarta and did the same together with some of the staff, playing some frisbee later on. When the men's sauna hour started I went up to the service building for another session, and upon returning to the main building I learnt that there would be no snowmobile transport in the morning due to open water on Láddjujávri – it was helicopters from now on. I pondered this new turn of events for some time, but I thought that I could at least make a train reservation, which I did before entering the restaurant for another fine meal of Ilkka's making.
After I had eaten I spoke some with Chatrin before circling around to the personnel canteen, where I found Tosse at last. We talked and talked and were later joined by Chatrin, but when the time approached 22 we all went off in different directions. Clouds were rolling in from the west – the forecasts for the morrow were not too promising – but it was still most comfortable outside. After fiddling a bit with my pack I went over to Skarta again, talking some more with Tosse before returning to my room, finishing the packing save for a few items – and then it was bedtime, for the last time in the fjelds this winter.