Tours › 2006 › Northern Kungsleden › Day 8

Tuesday 18/4

Stage map 8

Vistas – Alesjaure

Horizontal distance:17 km
Vertical distance:+280 m, -100 m
Time:4 h 30 min
Lunch break:1 h 15 min
Dinner:Meatballs with mashed potatoes + lemon mousse with chocolate crisp
Night accommodation:Cottage
Stage classification:Easy
Map points:Vistas, Alesjaure

It was still snowing in the morning, and a considerable wind was blowing, but some blue flecks were visible here and there, and it seemed as though it was about to clear soon. I got up at 07:30 and started a fire to fight off the morning chill. As expected, the weather got gradually better, and the snowfall petered out, but the process was slow. I made some preparations and then sat examining the conditions outside; the slow dissipation seemed to have slowed further, but it was still going on. I went on to have breakfast, at the end of which the other two men departed, and a snowmobile with a sled arrived from Nikkaluokta, carrying some skiers.

Visttasvággi 7
Visttasvággi 8
...and northwards...
Visttasvággi 9
...and again, later

The snowmobile soon turned back, and the skiers disappeared from view. A bit of sunlight broke through the clouds, which persisted in cutting off the peaks. I decided to sit tight for a while, to see if they would lift. In the meantime, I went to the woodshed and chopped some firewood, and then readied myself to leave. Things were clearing more by then, and I stood for a long while in full gear looking into Stuor Reaiddávággi, waiting for Nállu to reveal itself properly. Once I reckoned that I had had the best view that I was likely to get any time soon, I got going. Just then, at 10:30, another snowmobile came from the south, this time bringing a group of three plus dogs.

Visttasvággi 10
Dog 1
The wardens' dog
Bridge 3
Bridge over Visttasjohka
Visttasvággi 11
Clouds up the valley
Vistas cottages 3
The main cottage and Vássačorru
Nállu 9
Nállu 10
...and Stuor Reaiddávággi

I skied in the old tracks of both snowmobiles and skis – they weren't really old, but the recent snowfall had degraded them – that ran on the frozen stream. The snow was sticky, but not so much as to actually be troublesome. After a while, the track veered away from the stream, running across land for a bit – the snow cover was rather thin, but manageable – and then returned to the ice. By then it had grown better, in two senses: it was much more clearly defined, and the snow conditions had improved. Some portions were pure ice, and I could make use of ye olde tricke of spreading my arms and letting the tailwind propel me.

Where Unna Vistasaš joins Visttasjohka, the track went onto the western bank and stayed there. It had been almost completely clouded behind me up until then, and clouds were hanging low ahead as well, but when I got around the bend in the valley, a pattern emerged: all the clouds were drifting with the wind up Visttasvággi, and then continued in the same direction through Unna Visttasvággi when the parent valley turned north, which meant that the upper parts of Visttasvággi itself were almost completely in the clear. Now, it would have been interesting to take the route through Unna Visttasvággi, which had been an alternative in my plan, but the weather conditions definitely favored continuing along the usual path. I shed no tears whatsoever making this choice, since I would now have the opportunity to actually see the places I passed last summer, when the clouds did not discriminate between valleys.

A kilometer or so further north, the track returned to the stream. As I approached a region of large boulders, I saw a group of reindeer ahead, and I stopped to give them a chance to withdraw in peace should they want to. They didn't take much notice, however, so I continued. Just then, the six dogsleds from the day before caught up with me, and I stepped aside to let them pass. One of the teams broke ranks and started to pursue the reindeer, but it was quickly reined in by the driver. The weather had become quite fair by then, but the clouds kept pouring into Unna Visttasvággi behind me. At around noon, I arrived at a reindeer-watching hut in the upper parts of the valley; no one was home, so I hope that the owner didn't mind that I used a corner of the little building as wind protection/backrest for my lunch break.

Vássačorru 4
The clouds leaving Vássačorru...
Visttasvággi 12
...but remaining on Unna Visttasčohkka...
Visttasvággi 13
...not to mention down the valley
Visttasvággi 14
Much better further up
Bogičohkka 1
Bogičohkka in the clear
Vássačorru 5
The jagged ridge of Vássačorru
Reindeer 2
A few reindeer grazing
Visttasvággi 15
Less cloudy behind
Fjelds 1
The crevices of the Boginjira stream
Dogsleds 3
Dogsleds passing
Visttasvággi 16
Looking over my shoulder just before...
Reindeer-watching hut 2
...coming up on the reindeer-watching hut

As I was boiling water for the freeze-dried wolffish casserole, I saw the dogsleds ascend out of the valley further up; the route they were following was more western than that of the summer trail, which makes sense seeing as how the latter passes the ravine of Moarhmmájohka via a bridge. The pouring cloud was unchanged, and so was the wind, but the view north was beautiful enough, and I sat relaxing for some time after finishing my meal.

At around 13:15 I was on my way again; the track was good, but it was evident that the advancing spring had taken its toll on the snow at the northern end of Visttasvággi. The snow in the slope leading out of the valley was very good, though, and climbing was easy indeed. Just as I was about to ski out onto Vuolip Čazajávri, I met the dogsleds, who were returning to Vistas. At the small rise following Bajip Čazajávri – the threshold of the pass – I veered off from the track, seeking my own way down through the hills. Just then, I heard the sound of a helicopter, and soon spotted a red one flying over Njuikkostak. There it stopped and hovered for quite some time, so I started wondering whether there had been some kind of accident up there, which a rescue team was responding to (those choppers are usually red). It took off eventually, and I continued my descent.

That descent was a bit tricky, for the snow was hard and the land much uneven, but I managed well enough. A few cairns that the melting snow had uncovered showed that, unknowingly, I was following the summer trail almost precisely, but as I approached the end of the slope I aimed directly for the Alesjaure cottages which were in clear view. I saw two people skiing across Alisjávri itself, and there were seven dogsled teams parked at the base of the hill on which the cottages lie. At 15:00, I took off my skis in front of the main building and went inside.

Reindeer-watching hut 3
Leaving the hut
Fjelds 2
Fjelds to the northeast
Bogičohkka 2
Bogičohkka from the other direction
Visttasvággi 17
Upper Visttasvággi
Fjelds 3
Vuolip Čazajávri
Dogsleds 4
Dogsleds returning
Unna Visttasčohkka 1
Clouds still licking Unna Visttasčohkka
Ice 1
Ice 2
More ice
Fjelds 4
Rear view
Moskkumoarhmá 1
Close-up of Moskkumoarhmá
Fjelds 5
Westward view from the crest
Unna Visttasčohkka 2
Unna Visttasčohkka keeping its cloud cap
Njuikkostak 1
Helicopter 1
The hovering chopper
Alisjávri Sámi encampment 1
Alisjávri Sámi encampment stretching out below
Birds 1
A flock of birds taking off
Alesjaure cottages 1
Alesjaure cottages 2
...the Alesjaure cottages
Giron 1
Giron dominating the view north

There were three gentlemen sitting in the common room next to the reception, but no warden was present. While waiting for one to come, I skied up onto the small height just south of the cottages, where I had an excellent view of the landscape in that direction. The wind was very strong there, but the weather was fair indeed in all other respects. Back at the reception, a couple had just arrived from the Unna Allakas cottage; they had gone there all the way from Katterjĺkk the day before, which is no cakewalk. Shortly, one of the wardens came in and allotted beds; I got to stay in the cottage that had been undergoing renovation when I paid my last visit, in a room presently containing one other man.

Alisvággi 1
Broken panorama of Alisvággi to the south...
Alisvággi 2 seen from a height...
Fjelds 6
...just next to the cottages
Alesjaure cottages 3
The cottages with Alisjávri below
Alesjaure cottages 4
"My" cottage
Alesjaure cottages 5
Interior shots of the reception...
Alesjaure cottages 6
...and common rooms...
Alesjaure cottages 7 the main building

I installed myself in the cottage, and then went out to produce some firewood; it was pretty warm inside, but I thought that I might just as well replenish the supply in any case. I then returned to the reception to pay, and also to shop – I had brought some mashed potatoes in powder form, and needed something to go with them, and I felt an urge for something extra as well, now that I had the opportunity. The warden collecting my money turned out to be the same fellow who had been the custodian of the Vistas cottages the summer before, and we had a moment of mutual recognition.

I then prepared the lemon mousse dessert (also in powder form) that I had bought, hashing some chocolate to mix into it, and putting it in the snow outside to cool. There were some other people in the kitchen, apparently belonging to the same company even though they were both Swedish and American, by their speech. Having finished the mix, I played some solitaire in my room, and then went back to the main building to retrieve a comic book from the small library found there.

I prepared and ingested dinner, which came in ample quantaties, and with the inclusion of the dessert I felt rather full afterwards. A language lesson was occurring within the mingled group, with a foreign girl being trained in the finer nuances of Swedish pronunciation; the source material appeared to consist of the ingredient list on a bread package. They were also having dinner, and from the sheer breadth of their menu I assumed that they were the ones associated with the dogsleds I had seen when I arrived.

Njuikkostak 2
Njuikkostak in all its glory...
Alisvággi 3
...and Alisvággi...
Giron 2
...and Giron
Alesjaure cottages 8
Darkening view...
Sun 12 the sun set

I still had some time before the indicated sauna hour, so I just rested, feeling quite content and all. Then, at 19:00, I went down to the sauna, where I found a few people inside. Most of them left before long, but a few remained, and I had an enjoyable session – much better than at Sälka four days past. I spent about an hour there, going outside to cool off every now and then, before calling it a night. The wind had subsided considerably, and what was left of it was now coming from the east; there were also more clouds, but still beautiful. As I was returning to the cottage, I met the familiar warden, who was heading down to have a sauna himself.

Alisvággi 4
The last rays of the sun...
Giron 3
...playing upon the fjelds...
Sauna 1 I enjoyed a nice sauna

Inside, I read for a while, while my roommate had already gone to bed. Due to the hefty dinner, I had only a light evening snack, and except for me the kitchen was empty at that time. I went outside to take some photos; it was quite calm, and the lingering light of the early night was quite extraordinary. I met the other warden, and we agreed that going inside again was a hard thing to do. Eventually I did just that, though, since it was also rather cold, and then spent the last waking moments after 22:15 reading.

Giron 4
Giron, ...
Alisvággi 5
Alesjaure cottages 9
...and the cottages in the dusk
Eve 3
Eve 4
Eve 5
Eve 6
Eve 7
Eve 8


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