Tours › 2006 › Northern Kungsleden › Day 4

Friday 14/4

Stage map 4

Singi – Sälka

Horizontal distance:11 km
Vertical distance:+160 m, -60 m
Time:3 h 45 min
Lunch break:1 h
Dinner:Pasta with chicken
Night accommodation:Cottage
Stage classification:Easy/Medium
Map points:Singi, Kuoperjĺkka, Sälka

I had a restless night with many waking moments, and during the later of these I noticed that it was a bit chilly in the room. From my semi-slumber I perceived, however, that someone was restarting the fire, and I could go back to sleep until the actual morning, when I got up at 07:15. The wind had abated substantially compared to the evening and night before, but it was still rather strong, and visibility had improved a few notches. The other warden came in to report that the weather forecast said, mostly, "no change", with little or no info about the upcoming days; he also estimated the current wind strengths to about 10 m/s.

A tour to the South Peak was obviously out of the question, but there remained the option of staying behind for the day and hope for better conditions on the morrow; my personal food supply could accommodate that, since there are no provisions being sold in Singi. I spent some time deliberating this notion, looking at the map and calculating the probability for a weather change. While I was doing this, other people were preparing to make their way against the wind to Kebnekaise, wisely arranging themselves into a group. For my part, I finally reached the decision to ski with the wind to the Sälka cottages, forgoing the summit altogether – after all, I've been there before, and it was likely that the following day would not see large enough an improvement to merit the effort.

Singi cottages 4
Still white...
Singi cottages 5 the morning

I left at 09:45, just before the septet, who were going in the same direction. The wind was hard enough, but a much more immediate problem was the optic uniformity of the snow cover in the bleak light – it was impossible to detect any features until I passed over them, be they holes, bumps, or slopes. If I raised my eyes, however, I could see select portions of the surrounding landscape. Understandably, there were no identifiable tracks during the initial bit, but after a sharp turn and a change of inclination, a fairly well-preserved snowmobile ditto appeared. All-round visibility was also on the rise, and there were even a few, short glimpses of weak sunlight on the snow. As I progressed along the trail, the veil lifted enough that I could just make out the Tjäktja Pass at the northern end of Čeakčavággi. It was starting to feel a bit warm, so I set a slow pace, taking my time to reach the Kuoperjĺkka shelter, where I paused before 11. It was a bit clearer around there, but the wind felt stronger.

Departure 1
People leaving for Kebnekaise
Singi cottages 6
The snow about to hide the cottages behind
Fjelds 1
Siŋŋičohkka not entirely obscured
Bridge 2
Bridge over Čeakčajohka
Sun 6
A veiled sun
Čeakčavággi 7
Čeakčavággi ahead...
Čeakčavággi 8
...clearing more and more
Sun 7
Another glimpse of the sun
Kuoperjĺkka 1
The Kuoperjĺkka shelter
Mádir 1
Mádir clearly visible behind

Inside, I found two of my roommates from the previous night, another pair of skiers, and a lone guy with a tent. We talked for a bit while I had lunch, and then the "other pair" departed in a southward direction. The rest followed not long thereafter (the guy towards Kebnekaise, the familiar ones to Sälka), and I was left to my own devices, relaxing as well I could. From the doorway, I spotted a group of seven on the other side of Čeakčajohka, one of whom was pulling a sled – this was obviously the Singi group, and I wondered whether they had mistakenly followed the snowmobile trail to Hukejaure, which branches off Kungsleden just south of the shelter. I finished my meal, and just as I was doing so a larger company consisting of Germans and Swedes from Sälka arrived, followed by what I assumed was an STF group event, judging from some people's clothes. I vacated the shelter and left before noon.

Čuhčavággi 1
Guobirvággi 1

Before long I met several more skiers on the trail, and my naked eyes could just barely discern a pair of sled-pulling ones further ahead, on the other side of the stream. The weather was clearing more and more along my direction of travel, and the wind seemed to be subsiding as well, whereas it was rather gloomy behind. When I passed the entrance to Gaskkasvággi, the sun burst through momentarily, and since the air temperature was apparently higher anyway, I decided to remove the micro fleece shirt. As if ordered, the wind grew again shortly afterwards, but it was no problem. I arrived at the cottages at 13:30, finding just the two wardens and the ex-roommates there.

Čeakčavággi 9
More of Čeakčavággi visible
Guobirvággi 2
Guobirvággi with the base of Drakryggen
Čuhčavággi 2
Passing Čuhčavággi
Čeakčavággi 10
Čeakčavággi behind
Sealggá 1
The Sealggá massif
Čeakčavággi 11
Full visibility ahead
Gaskkasvággi 1
Stuor Reaiddávággi 1
Stuor Reaiddávággi
Reaiddánjunni 1
Sälka cottages 1
Drawing closer...
Sälka cottages 2
...and closer...
Sälka cottages 3 the Sälka cottages

Since the weather was steadily improving, I left the rucksack inside and went for a short tour – I started climbing the slope northeast of the cottages, aiming for Reaiddánjunni, and, when I felt that I had gained enough altitude, wiggled my way down in a lightly awkward manner. It was still rather white in the south, and just as I was returning to the cottages a light snowfall had begun.

I had felt a bit sidelined in Singi, where all the others managed to take care of all the common chores, so I made up for this by fetching water and chopping a good deal of firewood while there were still few guests present. I then went to the small shop and bought a pack of hard bread, and I also intended to acquire some oatmeal, but they only sold it in full bags, which would be too much for me. However, the presiding warden hinted that there were several partially consumed bags of that sort left behind in a cupboard in the cottage, so I just filled my oatmeal compartment from that source instead.

Fjelds 2
Fjelds 3
The gorge between Čeakčahjälmen and...
Gaskkasnjunni 1
Stuor Reaiddávággi 2
More of Stuor Reaiddávággi

Upon returning to my room, I started a fire, and soon a group of four came in and took over the management of it. The 7-group had also arrived – they hadn't been fooled by the trail split, but were simply taking advantange of the flatness of the stream for the benefit of the one pulling the sled. As soon as the other couple had returned from the sauna (which was warm from the wardens' use of it during the day) the group went down to it; I had been told to wait to 17:00, together with any and all other men interested in the activity. Speaking of men, I was offered some candy (which I graciously accepted) by the ones in my room, and a single Danish one came in later on; I have always found it difficult to understand spoken Danish, but this fellow was quite alright in that respect.

I had dinner at 17, just as one of my roommates left for the sauna, and soon the group came back. Another pair of travellers arrived from the north, and then I followed suit and went down to the little sauna building. There was less wind then, and the cloud cover was much broken apart. Inside, I found two roommates – the second one must have left without my noticing – and it wasn't particularly warm for a sauna, so I tried getting the heater to increase its output. The other two left before long, and I remained behind still working on the sluggish fire; it just didn't catch on properly, and the temperature never reached standard sauna levels. Meh. When the two newcomers came in, I saw fit to leave myself. At least I got a nice wash, which felt good.

Čeakčavággi 12
Southern Čeakčavággi
Sauna 1
The sauna with Stuor Reaiddávággi behind
Sälka cottages 4
Sauna 2
Inside of the sauna
Čeakčavággi 13

Clouds were in the process of amassing from the south, and there was more of the (very) light snowfall. I played some solitaire, and when I brought out the knife to sharpen my pencil, I managed, without trying, to impress some members of the group who were present – having a woodwork craft teacher who is one of the leading knife makers in the country in senior compulsory school has its effects. Later on, I was invited to play cards with four other members of said group, which lasted for a good while. There was still a light snow falling, but the north remained moderately clear.

I had a substantial evening snack, and played another game with the group, who then went on to bed themselves early; I stayed up reading a chapter or two myself. It was pretty white outside by then, and windy, but not particularly cold, so no one bothered with a fire in the bedroom. I crawled into my sleeping bag at 21:30, and put the light out right away.



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