In the city there was a thick fog, and it did not start to lift until after I had passed Järpen, but in Åre the morning weather was as fair as one could ask for. My goal was not Åre, though, and unfortunately the sky grew more overcast the further west the train went; by the time I reached Enafors there was an unbroken grey blanket overhead, but save for an obscuring cloud around Västra Bunnerstöten all closer peaks were visible.
Easter is a popular time for going to the fjelds, and it was no surprise that the shuttle to Storulvån got packed, with people stading in the aisle. During the ride up I caught a glimpse or two of Sylarna, but it was clear that their peaks were hidden at the moment. Another glimpse I caught was of a Swiss I had encountered in both Såmmarlappa and Nallo, but I never got a chance to hail him. Upon reaching Storulvån I promptly went inside the station in search of a toilet – and just as promptly ran into Jan who had relieved me in Vålåvalen last summer; he was also on his way to Gåsen, in order to visit the warden couple there with whom he was acquainted. I went through my final preparation procedures and then went out to put the skis on, by which time some weak sunlight was giving rise to similarly weak shadows.
I set out at 10:30, finding the snow to be really good, and along the trail so many people had skied after one another that a definite track could be utilized. Virtually everyone else pressed on straight ahead towards Sylarna, so at first I was alone in breaking off towards Gåsen. The fjeld of the same name (Gåasa in South Sámi), which was right in my sights, was in the process of acquiring a cloud cap, and soon the Snasahögarna group behind me started doing the same. It was fairly warm in the air, but a cool wind made things comfortable and I made good speed with no particular effort, due to the slick snow which was just the right degree of mushy in the surface.
I passed a couple of people before reaching Handölan, the ice of which still held sway over the warmth, and on the other side I passed another three, only to be overtaken myself by a skating fellow. The snow continued to be excellent on the dirt road that leads to Tjallingen and I could really ski instead of walking, trudging, wading, ploughing and everything else one usually does, which was probably to some part also due to my light pack – a pack which I was hardly aware of. The wind had died down, however, so it was warmer than before most of the time.
Shortly before reestablishing contact with Handölan I passed by a lone man sitting beside the trail resting, and then a trio standing on the trail resting, but the latter almost immediately took up the hunt, as it were, and I was shadowed for quite some time. I had also observed a larger group further ahead, and a bit later I caught up with its trailing parts. I could then see that it appeared to consist of a group of families with children of various ages and sizes, and as I started to overtake them a single guy passed me by in turn, but just before the first buildings of Tjallingen appeared I was in the lead again. I now had a clear line of sight to Helags, and was much gladdened to find that it was all out in the open. From there one can follow two marked routes past Tjallingån, and I chose the one going by the shore before climbing to meet the summer trail.
Once up on the open expanse – which is where I pithced my tent last summer – I took a short break, during which a jolly Norwegian couple passed me by. Now the wind had returned in somewhat increased capacity, and the peakophilic clouds did their thing in an unpredictable but recurring manner. I noticed that there were more people ahead of me on the trail, but after the first drawn-out upward slope I broke off said trail. Going through the band of trees close by was easier than expected, since the snow carried beautifully while still being soft enough to provide perfect grip, even though out on the mires and suchlike it was somewhat weaker. I proceeded up onto a bare-crested hill, where I sat down for lunch against a rock before 12:30.
The light had grown, and as I sat there it grew further; Templet was almost entirely in the clear, but the rest of Sylarna still pierced a local ceiling, and now Helags was attracting a cover as well. I remained immobile for some time, feeling the warmth of the almost-sun, waiting for a lift that did not quite want to happen.
When I got going again I headed for the northwestward outrunner from Gåsen, skiing against a wind more appreciable but also warmer than before. I proceeded without problem between/through the little hills making up the landscape, after a bit coming onto a downward ski track which I followed for a while. The snow was perfect for going uphill, even though there were some weak sections where my skis sank. I felt a few light drops of rain as I went up onto the west side of the outrunner, continuing along its length and then starting to ascend the main rise of Gåsen. I headed more or less straight up at first, then keeping more to the right side, taking to zigzagging when the inclination grew. As it started to lessen again the snow turned very uneven, but due to the warmth the crests were soft enough to collapse entirely under my skis.
On the summit I took off my skis and climbed the snow mound passing for a top cairn to have a good look around. Visibility was very good for the most part, even though clouds still hung around Sylarna, Helags and also Stora Härjångsstöten. I waited for a while to see if a change was coming, but the only thing I noticed was a varying solar intensity (nice as that was). Eventually I put the skis back on and started down the south slope, immediately catching sight of both the Gåsen cottages and a good deal of people about to arrive there. As for the slope, it was almost entirely smooth, and going was pretty good at first – before it turned fantastic, and I could telemark rather gracefully for a while. I then proceeded at a shallow angle in the direction of the antenna before turning straight down, where the snow was much wetter but still good. I reached the cottages shortly before 15:30, where one of the wardens was standing outside talking with a couple of young guys trying to decide whether to camp out or not.
After the initial pleasantries I went inside the shop, where the wife was doing duty at the moment, for some more talk "between wardens", and then I took up position in the older guest cottage. Having claimed a bed I went back out and "did the rounds", as the light was now stronger than before, and the clouds around the higher peaks were evaporating. Then Jan and his companion arrived, having followed the trail, and some more conversation followed, towards the end of which a light rain started. I went to cut some firewood and then returned inside, where I fired up the heater for boot-drying purposes while talking with the other two current occupants of the room. Shortly two more people with two dogs came in, upon which followed five more humans and two more canines, and all of these seemed to get along just fine. Outside the cloud cover was breaking up, so I went for another round before dinner, at which time several more people had come inside to prepare their respective meals.
The evening was a beautiful one, which called for a longer walk, and for the first time Sylarna were all in the clear. Back inside I found that a family of five had just arrived, and since there was only one free bed left this meant crowdedness, but since I had a top bunk (out of three) I was reasonably "safe" myself. I entered this bunk as much to relax as to be out of the way, and as feared it was rather hot up there close to the ceiling, what with the fire burning and the mild outside temperatures. After some time things quieted down and I climbed down to floor level for some heat relief, and looking out the window I found the light to be much worthy of another excursion. Specifically, there was a red tint upon Helags that grew stronger by the minute, spreading to Stora Härjångsstöten; all traces of wind had gone, and it was rather a serene experience.
When the light faded I went back indoors, where some of the others had already gone to bed. I flipped through the guestbook, finding several names I recognized, and then read for a bit and played some solitaire. I went on to have my evening snack as floor beds were being laid out, and before I knew it I was the last one still up in that half of the building. Outside the sky showed quite a bit of clouds still, but they were even higher than they had been earlier, and it was still still and enjoyable. Some people had embarked upon a late ascent of Gåsen proper earlier in the evening, and they were only now coming down in the failing light, which judging from the sounds was somewhat problematic since they apparently had brought no artificial light source. It was 21:45 when I climed back up to my bed, which was still warm bordering on the uncomfortable.