When I got up in the morning everyone else was already up and about, and the Yo-yo trio left at 08:00. The weather was mostly overcast with a bit of wind, but it looked as though they would be able to pull it off. As the others went through departure preparations I commenced baking preparations myself. When everyone had left the weather had improved to the point that a full-scale change was possible, but the wind was yet to be persuaded. A couple of guys then came from Vistas, and despite the early hour they were intent on staying.
A bit later a single man came in their tracks, taking his time to cross the last few hundred meters. The reason for that was explained when he arrived – there was an injured reindeer lying among some rocks close to the track, and he had stopped for a remote visual inspection; apparently one of the animal's hind legs was badly damaged and unusable, which meant that come the night the resident wolverine would probably get the better of it. To prevent that from happening, hoping to minimize the poor creature's suffering, I put through a call to the police asking them to relay a message to the local Sámi, who could then go out and take care of it. I talked for a bit with the new guests and then it was time for lunch.
Afterwards things took a turn for the worse outside, and I returned to the puzzle pastime together with one of the others, and the rest soon came over to keep us company. Then I observed a group of three coming down the steepest part of the slope, using quite a bit of time and effort in doing so. Just as they finally arrived the two guys set off on an afternoon tour, and the newcomers went inside for a break – they would be continuing to Sälka afterwards. There was a bit of sunlight intertwined with an outburst or two of light snowfall, and it was also calmer.
After the trio had left the other two came back, making some very nice turns in The Slope. Just as they pulled in at the cottage a snowmobile-riding Sámi came by, having just put down the reindeer; he was on his way to the Alisjávri encampment for a watching week, and he was glad that I had made the call to call. When he left he dragged the carcass off to a larger rubble of rocks where it would not disturb passers-by, and I then returned inside and loafed by the radio and the puzzle until dinnertime. In the evening I went over to the others for the regular semi-formal visit, and ended up in a long conversation on subjects ranging from environmental issues, technology and fjelds via military to hunting – and then back to the environment. Outside it was snowing from a blanketed sky, and a light wind was blowing.
After a fretful night I awoke to a fair morning with dissipating clouds and almost no wind. The single man left before 8, and the others would be making a day tour to Unna Räita (what, really!?). It was rather warm and comfortable outside, and I prepared to make an excursion of my own, which commenced at 9.
I went up beside the northwestern ravine, after which I scaled the ridge mostly straight on. Up there there was some more wind, but nothing to speak of, and a large veil in the east had now swallowed the sun which made for an interesting soft light. I went up to the western crest, and by that time the sun had passed into a denser part of the veil, which itself did not appear to be moving. On the other side of the Šielmmávággi pass the sky looked very dark and threatening at first, but the clouds responsible for that appearance soon gave way to lighter ones. I stood at the crest waiting for the sun to emerge again, and the second it did I set off downwards, taking mostly the same route as I and my companion had done ten days earlier (was it so long ago already?). Snow conditions were fully OK, but also tricky at times, resulting in one tumble. Having descended the steep last portion – which was rather good – I maintained some altitude as I veered off past the lake, aiming for the pass.
As I approached the slope I was greeted by a new wind, and the sun was obscured by a new veil which cast a silver tint on the world. I zigzagged my way up with just a few long crossings, and after reaching the crest I went on up the next slope, keeping along the northern boundary. The snow felt very good there, and it looked even better up the steep slopes to my right, but since several avalanches had just set themselves off just there I ruled that option out with prejudice. Once on the next crest I had a better view of the pass itself – or, rather, I didn't, since a haze hung low just a few hundred meters ahead of me. The descent to the lake was really good – especially the last part – and then I continued to the crest of the outrunner on the other side. Upon reaching it I was surprised to find myself looking down at a helicopter parked beside the cottage, so I left my pack at the usual rock and then skied down the slope to investigate, getting a very good run out of it.
Panorama eastwards from the Šielmmávággi slope, showing Šielmmáčohkka,
Nállu, Reaiddáčohkka, Knivkammen, Vaktposten and Čeakčahjälmen
The time was 11:00 when I returned to the cottage, where I found three repairmen in the process of changing the solar panel that powers the assistance telephone, as well as its batteries; apparently there had been some charging issues. They also told me that off towards the Norwegian border the weather was really lousy at the moment, with thick clouds and rain, but here at Nallo things were still pretty good. As they required no assistance from me I went up the slope again, during which four smaller dogsleds appeared on the southwestern crest, slowly making their way down to the cottage. I continued up to my left-behind pack and sat down to have lunch while the drivers took care of their dogpowers. The clouds had now mostly parted, but beyond the shelter of the rock there was some wind to reckon with.
After the helicopter had taken off again I went back down to check on the dogsledders, recognizing the Jukkasjärvi leader from the end of March. Also this time he and his group were just visiting, and after talking a bit I went for another few runs in the slope. During the first ascent I saw a familiar helicopter passing by and from the sound of it putting down somewhere around the westernmost of Nállojávrrit, and on the third ascent I spotted a number of fresh ski tracks on the lower reaches of peak 1884 and the glacier below, revealing the purpose of that second chopper. When I reached the crest this time the dogsleds took off towards Sälka again, in the direction of which the sun now displayed a clear halo; worse weather was obviously on its way. One last fun run down followed, finally landing me at the cottage at 13:45.
Later in the afternoon I watched an unknown pair of skiers coming down very carefully from the southwest, but rather than closing in on my location they headed straight for Vistas. Just then another pair appeared in the latter direction, and the others adjusted their course to intercept. A somewhat lengthy conversation apparently followed, and then they parted ways again. The approaching pair planned on staying, but before that they wanted to make an afternoon tour.
At the same time I caught sight of yet another pair up on the northwestern crest, where they were apparently following my tracks from the same morning backwards, which would not be the optimal way of reaching Nallo from that direction with full gear. Obviously they realized this themselves and sought out another route, ending up in the steep slope on the other side of the ravine – not optimal either, but at least well tested. After a prolonged descent they finally reached the rest of us, where it turned out that they were already somewhat acquainted with my other guests. Coinciding with their arrival was the return of the Unna Räita visitors, who had nothing but praise for the place and the day they had chosen to go there; they had also made a fantastic run in the slope beneath the Čeakčabákti glacier while they were at it.
The pair from Vistas then set out on an Unna Räita visit of their own, announcing that they would probably not be back before later in the evening. By then it had become rather windy outside, but other than that it was still fair, albeit with a weakened sun. After dinner I talked for a long time with the newest arrivals, concentrating on things relating to fjelds and maps thereof. Some radio jazz and book reading followed, and at 21:00 the day's second visit to Unna Räita came to a conclusion. The nearby peaks had now started to lose themselves in a haze, and when I went to bed more substantial clouds were in the process of descending off to the west.
The weather had not changed in any meaningful way during the night, but later in the morning things looked a little better. The two guys left for Singi at 9, but the remaining guests made no haste at all. I did some stuff out in the storage building while I waited for them to leave, which the last ones did around 11:30. I spent the afternoon with books, radio and puzzle, being interrupted only twice: first the same two who had passed by at a distance the day before came back from Vistas and went on to Sälka after a break inside, and then there were two Finns who came down the easiest route from Tjäktja, also just pausing before setting off för Sälka. The weather had deteriorated steadily during the day, and after dinner it was no fun at all sticking my nose outside. I put a few more pieces of the puzzle into place and then listened to a program on the Sámi language(s) on the radio. I went to bed after the evening newscast, heeding some rather strong gusts throwing themselves against the walls.
I got up in ample time for the weather forecast, and it was windy indeed with many a cloud about, but also some weak sunlight. I had to clear the privy path several times, but the water fort still held the fort, so to speak. As the forenoon progressed the clouds lifted somewhat but the wind remained as forceful as ever, and this was still the case when towards noon I spotted some people approaching from the east, keeping much more to the south than what is usual. Since the hard headwind impeded their forward movement I had time to prepare some warm fruit drink to greet them with – something which was extremely well received. This group was actually two groups of two women each, and they came inside to have lunch, which was also what I was about to do.
After I had eaten I went over to the rest for a long talk – I learnt that one of the pair consisted of fellow citizens of Republic of Jamtland, and that Leif, a warden colleague from the course whom I have run into several times since (and before I knew his name) had been with them in Alesjaure, and might show up any day now. They departed for Sälka at 14:30, after which the wind slowly started to lessen. I cleared the privy path once again and then spent the remaining time up until dinner listening to the radio. In the evening the clouds had reached rather a high altitude, and the resulting light was intriguing. Not surprisingly there were no more visits, but I did not feel completely alone as a flock of reindeer was hovering just a few hundred meters away.
These reindeer remained the following morning, and so did the clouds – but the wind was all gone. It was also pretty warm outside, and the snow had already started to thaw in places. Feeling optimistic about the coming day I prepared for a day tour, departing for another visit to Unna Räita before 9.
The cottage was uninhabited upon my return, and all around it effects of the warm day could be seen, even though there was no major change as of yet. I rested for a bit and then had afternoon tea, feeling a strain in my eyes from all the indirect light during the day. I had just started dinner procedures when the Vistas crew came by, having had a great tour – they had wanted to get to Unna Räita ever since they started their assignment, and had seen this as something of a last opportunity. We talked for quite some time, and then Anna bought a Nallo cloth badge for Nallo the dog, which was also something she had been wanting to do. After showing off the decidedly more spacious warden housing – and receiving another chocolate bar – I said goodbye to them, and I could sit down to eat. It was now rather nice outside, with a warm light painting the still numerous clouds, which decreased in number as time went by. I went to bed at 22:00, for the first time feeling the need to employ the window shade to shut out the increasingly light nightly ambience.
I woke up at 05:45, and upon going outside I found it to be a perfectly clear and still morning, so I made a quick decision to take advantage of the situation. I therefore had breakfast at once, turned off the heat, put in a fresh set of batteries in the camera – alkaline ones this time, as I had run out of rechargeables – and then set out on a much longed-for full circuit of the entire Čeakčačohkka massif at 07:30.
There was one set of skis leaned against the wall, the owner of which was sitting inside. The warm day had caused quite a few minor avalanches, the most prominent of which were upon Nállu and peak 1750. After going through post-arrival procedures I sat down to speak with the other man, and as I did so it cleared once again outside, but there was a bit more wind. It was not until after dinner that the expected tiredness started to descend upon me, and as a consequence I took it very easy. The evening was beautiful indeed, but also somewhat windy, and as I prepared to go to sleep around the usual time it got windier still.
I slept like a log until sometime around 6, when some sounds revealed the waking state of the other man. I stayed in bed until the weather forecast, and upon looking out to see what the weather was actually like I found increasing cloudiness and a substantial westerly wind. I then had a comprehensive discussion with my guest about continued routes in relation to continued weather, and in the end he reached a decision to go to Vistas and then back down to Nikkaluokta, rather than betting on Tjäktja/Alesjaure and Abisko. After he had left I busied myself with being as un-busy as possible, a scheme which held beautifully until lunchtime.
It snowed for a while, and when that had passed the clouds remained fairly low in most places. I continued to execute my plot by taking a nap, following which the outdoor whiteness had increased further. The remaining hours before dinner I spent listening to the radio and poring over the map, and later on the clouds started lifting again. The evening saw more patches of the sky appear, but there were still quite a bit of high, thin clouds stretched across the dome. I did more of nothing and then relocated to bed, lying down with another book after 22.