The wind kept extinguishing the heater, and after the third reignition I just let it be. Upon answering a call of nature in the middle of the night I tried it again, and also had to sweep more snow from the vestibule; the weather was still bad, but not quite as bad as before. After lighting the heater one more time (sigh) I returned to bed, and when I awoke in the morning it was in fact still burning. The wind had died down much (but not completely), and visibility was fairly good.
I finished packing and cleaned out my room with the radio as accompaniment, and all the while weather conditions improved outside. The two Austrians were to remain for another day since their dog had taken ill, so I offered some more advice re: skiing targets in the vicinity, and they ended up going up the same way I had before on Lulip Muorahisčohkka, only they continued all the way to its summit. Everything was now set for a change in power, as it were, and just as I sat down to have lunch I saw the lights of approaching snowmobiles far down in the valley.
No more had I swallowed the last bite than they pulled up outside – or at least one of them, carrying Kristian and Peter, the next warden. Soon thereafter Lasse from Abisko also arrived, filling in for Jesper, and as though caused by their arrival the wind had just vanished completely. I took Peter for a tour of the place while the others went to check out the Pass, and then we welcomed the Austrians back as they came down in graceful turns, happy as few (so happy, in fact, that they considered staying for another night even if the dog's condition improved).
I spent some more quality time with Peter, and upon receiving a thumbs-up I readied myself for departure. Kristian and Lasse had just returned, having helped the three Germans who had just left repair their skis in the shelter (lucky break for them), and five more people were just coming up the slope. The time was around 13:45 when we left, letting Peter have the quintet as his first guests, and since the weather was now very nice I opted for cabriolet-style in the sled.
The route was considerably better than on the way up, and the distance to Alesjaure was covered in quick fashion. There we stopped for a snack'n'talk with Curt and Ulla, during which the remaining clouds lifted. The stretch across the lake was similarly pleasant, although the snow cover was still scant around Gárddenvággi – and the trail through the forest below the slope was a long line of bumps. Another pause in Abiskojaure followed, where Bosse had been relieved by Lena's sister Anna-Karin, and since neither I nor Kristian was in any hurry we let Lasse go on ahead with my stuff, and stayed for a while longer ourselves. During the last few kilometers of the journey the sun finally set, and the combined effect of this and my having been out in the sled for quite some time now was starting to turn into a chill.
The whole trip had taken just over three hours, and before going into the station I finalized what things should be transported how. Marie had booked me into a room out in the hostel part of the facility, where there were already a couple of other (foreign) guests. After sifting through 113 new e-mails, most of which were spam, it was time for dinner, which I prepared myself in the service kitchen; I still had some provisions left from the cottage. More online activities followed, during which I met Sören the tour guide who was about to start with a fresh group along Kungsleden in a few days, while outside the clouds revealed a partial dome of stars absent aurora. My roommates were on their way out for some night photography, probably hoping for the latter, while I read in my book for a while before switching off the light at 22:30.
Having had my sleep interrupted by heavy snoring I awoke at 06:30 and stayed in bed for another hour. Outside the clouds were parting, starting in the north, and I went for a little photo round in the cold morning. A calm and substantial breakfast in the restaurant followed, itself followed by another photo round. While I was sitting in the main building using the free Wi-Fi I met Jesper, and we chatted a bit before he headed off for (local) work. I had lunch in the service building, being joined by more people, and then went out for a walk.
I started out by going to the old station building, the interior of which indeed had an old feel to it, and then followed a footpath in the snow on the other side of Ábeskoeatnu. It dwindled after the red bridge, but I followed the remaining footprints down to the stream, going across the ice and then up again on another path, ending up at the garages. I reentered the tourist station by way of a bottom-floor door and spent some time there before returning to my room for a while. I waited for the kitchen to be cleaned and then had afternoon tea, after which it was time for sauna. I was alone at first, but soon one of my roommates showed up, and then I readied myself for a nice dinner.
I was afforded a small table of my own and the food was very much to my liking – especially the excellent starter soup. This is what it consisted of:
- Hors d'œuvre: crayfish soup with brioche
- Main course: elk tenderloin with lentil, dark chocolate, chipotle, suovas and morel ragout, potato puree and lingonberries
- Dessert: white chocolate mousse with blueberries
I just relaxed for the rest of the evening, packing up some things, and climbed into bed around 22:15.
I was awoken first by a mobile alarm, and then by that incredible snoring. Sigh. It was therefore a tired warden that arose at 07:00 to a new day of snow and wind. I had brekfast in the self-service kitchen this time, and then packed up all my remaining stuff, cleaning the parts of the room not beleaguered by the others. I checked out in the reception, dumped my stuff in the baggage room, and settled down with the smartphone to read up on things until lunch. This was had in the restaurant, and once again it was excellent, so I stuffed myself full since the dinner would have to be on the train. I went out for one last short walk, and then it was time to fetch my pack and head over to the train station, thereby ending my ninth wardenship.