Tours › 2007 › Såmmarlappa › Day 2: II

Tuesday 14/8 – part two


Stepping onto the porch at 12:45 I was welcomed by Lars, and after the initial courtesies and superficial conversation I requested that he show me where the famed earth cellar was, so that I could stow away the fresh food items that were currently experiencing much too high temperatures in my rucksack. Just as this was accomplished another shower set in, and I had my lunch under the little roof built over the porch; there were some mosquitos about but their numbers were quite manageable. We continued our discussions for a while before I carried my stuff inside, and then I threw myself in the river – it was cold, of course, but not overly so, and the invigorating effect was nice and all.

Vuoksákvahta 2
Clouds leaving Vuoksákvahta
Gárddevárre 1
Cottage 1
The Såmmarlappa cottage

Lars then had his own lunch while a single visitor had a light meal outside before continuing on, and then we went on a little tour of the premises, poking around in all the buildings and compartments, covering the routines and characteristics of the place. It was now clearing again above and to the north, but a wind of non-trivial strength had picked up. We also tried out the little ferry, which is simply an old boat previously employed in some water crossing along the large marked trails, to the ends of which a rope is attached. This rope goes through anchored pulleys on either bank and passes through another pulley secured to one flank of the boat, so that when one sits (or stands) in the boat and pulls the rope one is transported across Darrhaädno without the need for a bridge.

Two Germans and two Frenchmen arrived and departed (the latter after purchasing a few things in the little shop, which is a most appreciated facility at Såmmarlappa), and then another two Frenchmen came and did the same. Lars and I went inside to go over the interior workings of the cottage, as it were, followed by more talk, while the clouds accumulated once more in the sky. When dinner time came Lars insisted on taking care of it, which I gladly obliged; we even had some dessert as a joint celebration of finish and start of task, respectively.

A short burst of rain-in-sunshine came and went, and then two young Sámi women with a dog arrived from the north – that they were indeed Sámi could be determined from the canine presence alone, as dogs are otherwise prohibited at all times within the borders of Padjelanta National Park, the southern end of which lies about 4 km north of Såmmarlappa. As it turned out they had started in Stáloluokta at 8 o'clock that same morning, and after a meal of newly caught arctic char and some quick physical recovery they pressed on to Tarrekaise, bringing the translational length of their day to about 55 km – way longer than what the average Swedish (or foreign) hiker deems doable.

Around this time a group the total number of which was nine arrived dispersedly, each subgroup keeping Lars busy with individual procurements in the shop. When everyone had departed he bestowed the cashbox upon me and sat down to write his economic report, so I was now technically the warden of Såmmarlappa, even though the formal switch would not occur until the next day.

View 1
Interesting clouds
Sun 2
Sun 3
Sun and rain
View 2
The Cottage View®

Having held this position for no more than perhaps half an hour of inactivity, the situation turned acute at once, for around 21 a girl from the newly departed nine-group came running with tears flowing. Since she was obviously in a state of shock it was somewhat troublesome to find out precisely what had happened, but apparently one of the men in the group had slipped on a wet duckboard and "cracked his knee". Moments behind her another group member came jogging, having made a quick decision that leaving a shocked girl to her own devices in what amounts to the middle of nowhere may not be wise.

As a consequence the only info he could add was that the other members of the group were tending to the injured man, but the exact circumstances of this injury and the exact location where it occurred – knowledge which would be necessary for a meaningful emergency call – were still unknown. It was therefore decided that he would run back to the site of the accident (which was no more than a kilometer or two away) to clarify the situation, and then we would utilize the assistance telephone installed at most STF cottages to call for help.

In the meantime the task of trying to calm down the girl, who was now crying uncontrollably as the force of the shock subsided, fell on me, and not being used to such conditions all I could do was offer physical closeness until her sobbing dwindled, and then turn to hot chocolate and lighthearted chitchat about events not directly relating to the accident. Finally there was movement outside again, but this time it was another man from the group who came, without great hurry. We then learnt that the nature of the wound was a deep gash exposing part of the kneecap, but it appeared to be nothing more than the commonly referred-to flesh wound nevertheless, and the others had taken care of it properly with their first aid kits so there was no immediate danger.

What was also clear, however, was that the injured man would not be walking away under his own power, so Lars and the newly arrived fellow went out to the small room which is open all around the year, and also houses the assistance phone, to make the call. This was not as straightforward as it should have been, for it seemed as though the police officers at the other end had a hard time grasping what was needed, and how an extraction could be organized.

Several "call us again in 10 minutes" later a decision was finally reached, but as is usual when it comes to mountain rescue the times involved were anything but rushed – a police helicopter would attempt to locate the distressed party at 03:00, possibly landing a rescue team at the cottage, who would then proceed on foot to the accident site. This we argued against, seeing as how it would be quite difficult to carry a stretcher with a large man on it through the intermediate terrain, but the ETA was all we got in the way of clear statements. The time was now 23:00 and darkness was settling, so the man and the girl got going to reach their camps (which had been established in the vicinity of their immobilized comrade) before eyesight alone would be insufficient for secure travel. Since there was nothing more to do before the expected arrival of the helicopter, Lars went back to his report and I went to bed, feeling confident that the rumble of an approaching aircraft would wake me up.

Helicopter 1

This was indeed the case, but it occurred as late as 03:50. Lars had been awake the whole time, and the only thing that had happened earlier was that the police had called at 2 to ask about the weather conditions. Presently a police helicopter coming all the way from Boden appeared below the unbroken cloud layer covering the valley and set down beside the cottage. It contained two policemen, and they had already landed a rescue team of four as close as 50 meters from the object of the operation.

While the two policemen were treated with the obligatory cup of coffee, we learnt via their communication radio that the injury was about as non-serious as expected, and the only complication (except for pain) was that the man in question was unable to walk unaided, so the "rescue" went easily and swiftly. Around 04:30 the helicopter took off again, going to pick up the rescue team and their patient before meeting up with an ordinary ambulance in or near Kvikkjokk. With the situation now fully resolved I went back to bed to catch some real sleep before Takeover Day.



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