I got up at 07:00 and sampled the weather, finding it rather fair – had we been sitting within a thick cloud layer, with rain whipping all around, I would have scrapped the Tjäktja route and continued through Stuor Reaiddávággi directly to Sälka. The scattered "dawn clouds" were still present, hanging right above the height of the northwestern waterfall by which I was to pass, but they were in the process of driting away and dissolving by the eastern wind, which remained fairly keen.
The two women were still abed, but the camper on the other side of the stream packed up and left while I was eating. Feeling invigorated by the light yesterday, I set off on my intended path at 09:00 and quickly discovered that the water crossing marked with cairns was more difficult than the one I found on my own when I arrived. The first rise beside the waterfall was moderately demanding, but the ground was mostly covered with grass and moss, through which a faint path with sporadic marking cairns could be discerned.
Once on the top, I had a great view of Stuor Reaiddávággi behind and the glacier lake in front. I also noticed two tents: one on my side of the stream, closer to the water, and one over on the other side a little higher up. It was possible to camp there, obviously, but the ground grew steadily stonier around the lake, so I didn't regret not coming there the evening before at all.
After a non-insignificant ford of a brook not marked on the map, I started the second, tougher, climb next to the small stream seen to the right in the image above. It was steeper than the previous one, and consisted of nothing but large, loose rocks. The little walking stick, which I had held on to, was of help, and so were the snow fields (which also played host to a number of reindeer). It was flatter after that, but still going upwards and still on the same kind of rocks. Some caution was required, but things were never actually precarious. There were more snow fields, which were easier to make use of than the first one, and I also noticed some peculiar insects looking suspiciously much like ants crawling around on them. At last I reached the crest of the pass and was rewarded with far-reaching views in both directions.
As can be seen, Šielmmávággi was composed of rocks, stones and pebbles. The descent was much easier than the ascent (no surprise there), as the rocks were more firmly rooted here. I saw two other hikers going upwards on the northern side of the valley, but I followed a cairn-marked route on the southern slope. Since I was actually supposed to go south, there was no point in my proceeding all the way down to the Tjäktja cottage, so I broke off from the "trail" after a small ford and went over the ridge while I still had some altitude. The pictures below are taken from the top of the ridge:
The moment I crossed over to the western side, the ground abruptly changed. From having been all stone, it was suddenly mostly grass. My immediate association upon picking up the walk was one of the Austrian Alps. I could see Kungsleden far below, with people on it (as usual). I maintained my altitude while proceeding southward, before starting to approach the main trail after it crossed Čeavččanjira, and then followed it the last few hundred meters to the shelter in the pass itself, where I paused for lunch just at noon.
Two German guys, whom I had seen on the northern trail, arrived shortly after, followed by two girls also from the north and a couple of other small companies from the south. I took my time, feeling quite content with my accomplishments thus far and knowing that the remainder of the stage would, in comparison, be a cakewalk.
After almost an hour, I set out again. Right at the shelter, which is situated at the highest point on Kungsleden, the view south is obscured by an offshoot of Čeakčačohkka. Therefore, one has to go down a short bit to see what everyone who comes this way is dying to see, and which was also the reason that I had wanted to take this arduous detour to begin with: league after league of Čeakčavággi stretching away into the hazy distance, finally being blocked by the characteristically shaped Stuor-Jiertá.
Having heard and read that the passing of the pass would be rather tough, in both directions, I was somewhat "disappointed" to find the descent fairly easy. Perhaps my overcoming a series of much more challenging climbs earlier in the day had hardened me, and the trail down at the valley floor made for very easy going at first. It was still sunny and warm, but the southern sky was heavy with dark clouds (but appeared to be clearer in the extreme south). I soon discovered that my clothing was a tad on the warm side for the present circumstances, so I stopped to remove the thermal underwear trousers, which quickly proved to be a smart move.
Soon thereafter I passed the two girls who had been up at the shelter, who were resting by the wayside and watching Geargeoaivi. The remainder of the walk offered few people encounters, and the trail grew stonier as it continued southward. Finally, the Sälka cottages came into view, having been hiding behind a low ridge up until then, and at 15:15 I unhooked the rucksack at the main building.
I immediately recognized the previous four campers, who were sitting propped up against a wall. Other than them, there were a good number of people about, but nowhere near "full". I was allotted a bed in a cottage of a model I hadn't seen before, consisting of a large kitchen/common room and four bedrooms with 6, 8, 4 and 2 beds respectively. I was the only occupant in the sextuple at first, but the two girls from before soon arrived and were placed there as well.
Sälka also possesses a sauna, which I was looking forward to. However, it wouldn't be warm until 18:00, so I considered having dinner first, but ultimately I just had a sandwich and passed the time by reading and speaking a bit with my roommates. A helicopter came from the north and landed right below the cottage, carrying supplies in and mail out. The wind persisted and the clouds, which were now directly overhead, released light amounts of their burden intermittently.
Soon after 18, I walked down to the sauna and spent quite a lot of time in it, chatting along with the other visitors. One of these was an elderly German lady, who had started her solo hike in Kvikkjokk way down south a fortnight before, which impressed the present company. The obligatory source of ice-cold water here was the stream coming from Stuor Reaiddávággi, which has its southwestern mouth right where the cottages are situated. Unlike at Alesjaure, it was easily reached and was much more inviting in terms of bottom state, current and depth – and there was certainly nothing wrong with the coldness.
I didn't get to eat until 20-ish, but I definitely didn't need anything to whet my appetite then. Since I had received a "free meal" at Vistas, there was no need for me to buy anything in the shop, as I would otherwise have done. The weather worsened somewhat as the evening progressed and the rain returned. With the aid of candles, I picked up reading where I left off and then had a light late snack before turning in at 22:15, being the last one to do so.