Tours › 2009 › Storulvån-Vålådalen › Day 2

Saturday 11/4

Stage map 2

Gåsen – Vålåvalen (via Holkendurrie)

Horizontal distance:23 km
Vertical distance:-180 m, +180 m, -240 m, +40 m
Time:6 h
Lunch break:1 h 45 min
Dinner:Stewed beef with couscous
Night accommodation:Cottage
Stage classification:Easy
Map points:Gåsen, Ljungan, Vålåvalen

The night was a warm one, so I did not use the blanket much – which unfortunately had the effect that it dropped to the floor, and in order to get it back I had to wake the dog that had taken up sleeping position on it. I then slept until others started rising, but I remained in bed until after 7 in order not to crowd the kitchen/common room. Outside the sky was clear and the crust of the snow had frozen during the night; a substantial southerly wind was blowing, which felt kind of good. I had breakfast, which despite the large number of present people went by without hassle, and some were even about to leave already. I packed up myself as one of the wardens came in for a morning report; there had been a total of 84 overnight guests, which is to be compared with the site's 48 beds. I finished up and then went out with the trash, stopping by at the wardens' quarters for a quick chat, and then I set out down the slope shortly before 08:45 under much abated wind conditions.

Morning 1
Morning 2
Morning 3

Due to the hard crust progress was very easy, and before long I came upon a set of tracks which I followed where I so wished, but then I took a somewhat higher course. My heading was the mouth of Holkendurrie, a valley I had long had my eyes on, but never really gotten the chance to try out before; while the route through Härjångsdalen is a good one, in several respects, it is also a short and quick one, and I wanted to make as much of this day as possible, now that it was as good as it was. Off to my right the Sylarna massif immediately came out into full view, and this view was certainly pleasing to the eye. The wind had come back in force, and as I approached the valley mouth it grew further, but it was only comfortable.

I came down to the flat valley floor at the foot of Stora Härjångsstöten, and I proceeded across it to a shallow crevice, where I found several very clear tracks running through the valley. During the final descent the wind had been on the decrease, but inside the crevice itself it rose sharply. The snow underneath my skis was excellent and even with the headwind I did not need to exert myself particularly – I did not want to, either, due to the power of the sun (and here the aforementioned wind helped greatly). The tracks alternated between following in the middle of Holkendurrie and keeping to the southern edge, and nowhere was there any shortage of snow.

When the valley opened up these tracks bent around Härjångsåsen, as there was a little outrunner blocking passage straight ahead, and out there on a vast unbroken snowfield it was perceptibly mushier, and the tracks were deeper, although things were still good. After a bit I came to the conclusion that the tracks were not only circumventing the outrunner, but were in fact headed for Helags, so I broke off as the eastward terrain was now more easily traversed.

I soon found another track to follow higher up, but doing so was not always possible due to the appearance of bare patches. The wind was growing back again, and something else which was growing back – into view – was the Helags massif, having been hidden by Härjångsåsen up until then. Having cleared the last of the hills I came out onto another large stretch of whiteness, but once again I left the track and headed for another series of hills of a flatter nature, and upon rounding these I spotted the Ljungan shelter around 10:45, which was where I intended to have my lunch.

Gåsen cottages 5
Leaving
Sylarna 5
Sylarna in all their glory
Sylarna 6
Closeup
Gåsen 3
Gåsen in all its glory
Holkendurrie 1
Entering...
Holkendurrie 2
...Holkendurrie
Stora Härjångsstöten 3
Passing beneath
Stora Härjångsstöten
Gåsen 4
Gåsen (and Getryggen) behind
Tjaakse 1
First sight of Tjaakse
Stora Härjångsstöten 4
Stora Härjångsstöten now behind
Helags 9
Helags back in view
Helags 10
Another closeup
Fjelds 1
Southeastern vista
Stora Härjångsstöten 5
More of Stora Härjångsstöten
Härjångsåsen 1
Härjångsåsen
Ljungan shelter 1
Arriving at the Ljungan shelter

After arriving I walked around the premises, seeing that the snow had melted only recently around the buildings, so the ground there was wet and/or muddy, which precluded the possibility of resting against a wooden wall. Instead I chose to rest against the signpost, where there was ample snow. The wind had completely vanished, and it was very hot as I dug into my lunch, but some time later a few weak gusts made themselves known. All the time I could hear extensive snowmobile traffic from the other side of the southern rises, but no vehicle came by my position – and neither did anything else, for that matter. I sat in the sun for a long time, eventually bringing out the map for a consultation, and now the wind was more frequent in its visits. Feeling no need to do anything, I remained seated and read for a bit, and then basked some more before finally – reluctantly – starting to prepare for departure.

Holkendurrie 3
Out of Holkendurrie
Ljungan_shelter 2
At the shelter

There was quite a bit of wind at first, but it only took a few hundred meters for it to die down again, and I quickly removed my cap. The trail I was now following is a snowmobile trail, and such tracks were the dominating ones; a few ski tracks were also visible, but they were not entirely easy to ski in since it was easy to slip to the sides, where the snow was much softer. After a while the wind returned, hitting me obliquely in the back, and there was much rejoicing. There were some portions of thinner snow and protruding ground, but certainly nothing to worry about, even though I soon took to skiing beside the tracks. I met two plus two snowmobiles driving at high velocity, and then I snuck past a little bend in the trail.

I had now climbed most of the slope, and here the wind was strong enough to necessitate the cap once more. Still being on the side of the actual trail, I cut straight through its pronounced bend and continued straight across the area which in summer is riddled with small pools. Here the snow was weaker, and every time I passed over a slightly convex surface it had a habit of breaking. Still, with both the wind and the sun in my back and nothing but silent expanses and rises in my field of view, it felt great skiing right there, right then. I aimed for the west edge of the rise I had climbed during my visit in summer, and going up the snow was markedly better. I followed closely around the bend before turning my skis downwards, and here it alternated between loose slush and sluggish slush, but I got a few turns out of it.

I continued flatly across the eastern slope of Gåertiestjaerhvie, using the poles (and the wind) to carry me forward just above the visible cairns of the summer trail. I went down to the winter trail where it turns down the slope, and going straight downhill from there was rather easy, but I still made a side trip or two for better photo angles. Down at the bottom the snow was very soft and wet, and my toes were now feeling moist indeed. The wind was still keen, but even so the last bit was a warm affair. Due to the wetness of the snow I could simply go straight up the final slope to the newer cottage, outside which I found Katarina the warden just before 14:45.

Ljungan_shelter 3
Leaving the shelter
Ljungdalen 1
Looking down Ljungdalen
Helags 11
Helags unobstructed again
Tjaakse 2
Tjaakse plus reindeer fence
Vålåsjöfjället 1
Vålåsjöfjället
Tracks 1
Tracks on virgin snow
Lievkiesåajja & Vuelie Livkiesåajja 1
Lievkiesåajja and
Vuelie Livkiesåajja
Gruvsmällen 1
Gruvsmällen
Vålåvalen 1
Vålåvalen etc.
Vålåsjöfjället 2
Vålåsjöfjället again
Fjelds 2
Looking along the line of Smällhögarna
Härjångsdalen 2
Härjångsdalen...
Härjångsdalen 3
...opening up
Härjångsfjällen 1
Härjångsfjällen
Gråsjödörren 1
Gråsjödörren
Vålå cottages 1
I know that place

After speaking some with her I went inside, putting my ski boots into the drying room at once, and then claiming a bed in a room already housing five people. After changing into my leisure clothes I went to the store together with two of the dog-people from Gåsen, where I bought dinner and spoke some more with Katarina. I then had afternoon tea and some reindeer meat in the common room, which at least at the moment was quiet and almost empty. The wind had decreased somewhat, so after downing the tea I went out and sat down on the bench at the backside of the house, facing the sun; the power of said sun seemed not to be at its full, and the wind never quite let go, but I still remained there for a good while.

Back inside more people had settled in or were in the process of doing so, and more and more filed into the common room for food or snacks. I looked through the guestbook, again noting some known names, and then filled up the water buckets from the barrel used to bring the stuff up from the water hole. Then it was time for dinner, and while I went with the light choice the ones sitting beside me were having real festive meals – it was Easter, after all.

Gruvsmällen 2
Härjångsfjällen 2

Now clouds were amassing behind Härjångsfjällen, and with the sun blocked the incessant wind turned chilly. While I was still seated, Catrin who had been the warden in Stensdalen in the early summer of 2008 came in with company, and we chatted a bit. I also talked a good deal with the others around the table, feeling slightly drowsy and not really eager to get up – one of the advantages of a full house is that other people will gladly take over a dirty saucepan, so that worked out alright. I went out and felt the coldness of the wind – the clouds were approaching, but they were still high – and so quickly retreated to my room where I rested for quite some time, listening to the howl in the chimney.

When I looked out again I found that the cloud bank had shrunk back a bit, but the wind hadn't. In the common room several groups of people were engaged in games of different sorts, and I read a bit in a book from the local library before an evening snack was required. After another even windier visit outside it was time for the late weather report before 22, which thanks to a battery radio could be heard by everyone present. I then proceeded straight to my room and went to bed, but all the other occupants of this room were still up, and it took a while for them to settle down.

Evening 1
Evening 2
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