Being my first warden assignment under the auspices of the Swedish Tourist Association, this sojourn would be decisive for any future engagements of mine in the business – and I can only say that the outcome was hugely positive. I think that a period length such as this one – a scant month – was good for a first-timer; long enough that I could get into the role properly and feel that it was "worth" going, but also short enough that it would not be overly taxing in case things did not fall out as well as expected, or if I should get restless from, for example, any continued lack of recreational opportunities. The dates involved were also much to my liking, as they left most of the actual summer free, allowing for the Sarek tour amongst other things – and I do like the season of autumn, especially in the fjelds.
I should note, however, that the signs of this season were not as numerous or prominent as I would have thought; the trees "should" have turned yellow, orange and red sooner, and this expectation was also shared by my friend the boat driver who is a local of Kvikkjokk, so it was not only me. Something which did fall out just as anticipated was the disappearance of the mosquitos shortly after I arrived; they had already started to wane when I set out but some were still about, mostly in the calm evenings and around bushes. Såmmarlappa is otherwise something of a hellhole regarding the little bastards, and during the early season it can take either a very good repellant or a person with a high threshold to cope.
Turning to the adjacent subject of weather, my stay saw it all. When I arrived it was still more or less summer, with warm winds and plantiful vegetation, and towards the end of August there was quite a bit of snow; the contrast between white peaks and green valleys is one I hold most dear. As for the frequent rains they were perhaps a bit too frequent to be glossed over, but I still was not particularly bothered by them since being stationary I could just wait for a day or two, and in most cases they came in the form of showers and not unbroken precipitation during a whole day.
It was in fact so that I could often sit outside the cottage and watch the rain fall at a distance, for it seemed as though the clouds responsible for some reason had a predilection for shying away from upper Tarradalen; it was fairly common that when there were looming clouds all around there was a blue streak running precisely along the valley. Due to the usually limited and eruptive nature of the rains that did reach me I got to see quite a few of the optical phenomena referred to in the subtitle, but no pots of gold were ever found.
Såmmarlappa lies on the Padjelanta Trail and as such it is a bit surprising how few people pass it every year, since the trail is a popular one. Much of the explanation can probably be sought in the regular helicopter tours to and from Stáloluokta; it is rather common for people to walk only the northern half of the trail which enjoys a grander reputation, skipping the portion through Tarradalen in either direction. That's a bit of a shame, really, as also this part has its merits, only that they may take on a different character – and the stage between Stáloluokta and Tuottar is by many hailed as the most beautiful one on the entire trail, not just in the National Park.
Regarding the visitors I did get the Germans outnumbered the rest by far. Apparently Padjelanta is something of an icon in Germany, and I was told that some widespread publication there has a biennial special on the Park and the Trail, which of course serves to attract lots of people. At the start of September my reckoning showed that the total number of visitors this summer would exceed that of the previous one, but since the intervening winter had seen a sharp decrease compared to earlier ones (see the Kebnekaise report for an account of the underlying conditions) the 2007 total would be pretty much the same as the 2006 total. Still, it felt kind of good being able to flaunt a positive result while I was in charge, so to speak.
Every once in a while I also got to do longer day tours; seeing as how I had a shop I was bound to be around when people could be expected to want to make use of it, but this usually left most of the day open. The low amounts of visitors in the first place of course allowed for more extensive periods of "time off" compared to the larger cottage sites along, for example, Northern Kungsleden, since the quantity of work imposed upon wardens is more or less proportional to the number of guests. Besides the workload issue I do feel that this type of installation suits me quite well, as I am more comfortable with the more intimate atmosphere that thereby arises – I can give a whole other kind of service to visitors if there are only a handful of them, making both their experience and mine a more personal one, and I am of the opinion that this is a good thing and something to strive for.
When all is said and done this premiere of mine was a resounding success – for me personally in the first place, but what feedback I got from the guests was generally on the positive side too, so I can't have messed up too badly. Something else which worked out well was my planning of how much – and what kind of – provisions I would require; never having done this before I mostly went with levelheaded calculations and some gut feeling, and now I know for sure that this method indeed functioned as expected within narrow margins. This wardenship thing has been a standing wish for me to attain, and now that I am there I do not think I will be "stepping down" any time soon. As I am writing this I am currently waiting to hear from Staffan and/or Siv what if anything the winter which has just started will mean for me in this regard...