The train was, to everyone's surprise, on time, and upon disembarking I ran into familiar people in the form of Curt and Ulla, with their hunk of a dog. The intro meeting wasn't for a few hours yet, so I checked out the place while I waited. Outside it was cold and fair, and the early sunset was a nice one.
There were more known people at the meeting, as usual, but some of the info was new – including the fact that we can no longer accept credit cards unless there is an online terminal at the site (which is only possible at select locations, for obvious reasons). Dinner was good, and more substantial than last time, after which there was a bit of aurora borealis – Abisko's great international signature attraction.
Whether or not there would be any transportation available this day was still up in the air, so I took it easy and leafed through the new handbook, looking for news – of which there was some. Before lunch I went on a walk down to Torneträsk, and on my way back I met Lena and Janne and his hunk of a dog.
A communal lunch followed, during which we were joined by fellow wardens Inger-Lise and Edith-Anna who had been to the famed Jokkmokk winter market and now paid a visit while they were "in the area" (quite a large area, but still). Not much more happened during the day, and my mind turned towards the expected departure on the morrow.
But, no such luck. Jesper the caretaker came to us at breakfast and laid out the plan: Abiskojaure as soon as possible, Alesjaure in the afternoon, and Tjäktja on Wednesday. This was immensely frustrating, as I had been mentally "out there" since the day before already. To alleviate some of this frustration I went out for a long walk in the nice weather, ending up high in the not-too-well-covered ski slope on Njullá. The view was great, however, and after a while I returned down the same way, while a couple of skiers (probably members of the local ski patrol) used the cableway to make some runs in the thin snow. I met a man of considerable (apparent) age coming up on a splitboard, and then went to lunch with Curt and Ulla.
An idea had dawned upon me: Perhaps I could hitch a ride with them to Alesjaure, spend the night there, and get picked up by Jesper and Kristian the next day? This hinged upon there being enough room in the snowmobile sleds for me and my rucksacks – the boxes with provisions and suchlike would have to wait – and after consulting with Jesper, who had just returned from Abiskojaure, it looked like there would be. I jumped at the chance, and after a quick packing-up and change of clothes I was ready to leave, which happend some time after 13:45.
The journey to Abiskojaure was uneventful, and after a short stop there we went on up the infamous Giron slope, finding the snow rather scant up there. Then there was a fully expected strong wind coming from the eastern continuation of the valley, and mist hang around the peaks, but otherwise the sky was mostly clear. The terrain was very bumpy, upon the lakes too, so it was nice to reach our destination after two hours in the sled.
Jesper and Kristian set about producing a water hole down in the stream at once, and Curt showed me to the auxiliary warden's room in another building, where there was also a man from the County Administration's nature observation unit. The gas heater wasn't cooperating, so I lit a fire in the wood-powered one instead, and then went over to the others. Two Germans were just arriving, aided by artificial lights as it had now grown dark, and they stayed in the open compartment for the night, even though they had a tent. The water-holers were also finished, and we had a snack with them before they started their return journey to Abisko in the oncoming night.
I produced some firewood and then food, partly using some left-behind stuff, and then went back to Curt and Ulla for some evening talk (and another snack, of course). Outside the wind was shifting, bringing snow at times, but it seemed like the general state was one of fair weather – stars could often be seen, as well as a bit of dancing aurora bands. I went to bed around 22:30 and listened to the wind howling in the chimney, content to be at least partially where I wanted to be after all.
The morning was cloudy, but as I was having breakfast the clouds started breaking up, letting the sun shine here and there. I packed up and cleaned the room, and then carried my stuff over to the main building, where I helped my colleagues with preparing the shop for business. The weather was still improving, and when Jesper and Kristian returned it was rather fair. After a quick snack we loaded my stuff, and set off at noon.
The track through the Aliseatnu delta allowed for high speeds, but then it was back to severe bumpiness. As we turned up the slope to the Tjäktja Pass we hit clouds and wind again, and it was rather a cold arrival. After unloading my things the caretakers started another water hole project, while I unpacked my provisions and looked around the place. Both the wind and the clouds were decreasing, and just as I was sitting down to lunch the others came back with several filled barrels of water, so we had the meal together inside.
The wind had produced a hefty snowdrift across the entire stairway leading up to the entrance to the main cottage, so clearing that was the next project. Once inside I made a fire in the kitchen while Jesper repaired the gas heater in the drying room, which wouldn't stay lit, and after ascertaining that all seemed well I waved good-bye. I used the snow that had been on the stairs to cover the naked stones on the yard and then went to check out the water hole, filling another couple of barrels while I was at it; getting over there was no problem, even though it was some distance away (under the nearby bridge), but getting back up out of the ravine with a heavy load was a taxing affair.
Back inside I went through papers and sorted out outdated ones, while the mist returned outside in the deepening dusk. Just as I was fiddling with dinner the two Germans from Alesjaure came in, and since it was just the two of them they opted for the adjacent room, which is always open. I spent the rest of the evening with continued paperwork and rummaging-about, and the later the hour grew the colder my room became, even though the heater was running at full power, so I pulled out the thermostat sensor a bit further to see if it would help things. It was also rather windy outside, and after I had found how to close the chimney hatch over the stove things were much quieter inside. The others had gone to bed early and I did so as well around 22:15, shivering against the cold sheets.