Tours › 2005 › Vålådalen › Day 2

Saturday 26/3

Stage map 2

Stensdalen – Gåsen

Horizontal distance:14 km
Vertical distance:+400 m, -80 m
Time:4 h 15 min
Lunch break:1 h
Dinner:Hen with curry
Night accommodation:Cottage
Stage classification:Easy/Medium
Map points:Stensdalen, Sjtäntja, Gåsen

The morning was as fair as the day before, albeit with a noticeably lower temperature. An elderly couple who had spent the night in my room were up early, and left the site about the same time as I started making breakfast. After the meal, I couldn't find my mobile phone; I looked around everywhere in the room and outside where I had been, but to no avail. Right before I was to leave, however, I found it – I had apparently placed it in the chest pocket of my anorak, and subsequently buried it there underneath other paraphernalia. Silly.

Sun 3
Sunny morning
Stensdalen cottages 1
The larger cottage
Kalle 1
Me just before setting out

At 09:30, I was all set to depart. Mother and brother would turn back to Vålådalen a bit later, while I continued to Gåsen, so we said good-bye then and there. Due to the cold night, the snow which had been slushy the afternoon before was now hard and glassy, which proved difficult for my skis to handle. Going in the frozen tracks from previous travellers, on skis and snowmobile, was simply impossible, as the hard-packed icy surface offered next to nothing in the way of friction. Getting along in the untouched snow beside those tracks was easier, but since the trail passes through woodland the first kilometers, there were also trees to worry about. Further up, however, conditions were different, and I had no problems from there. Since the morning had been chilly, I had put on another layer of clothes. That quickly turned out to be inappropriate, for the sun was growing stronger by the minute, and I had to stop after just a few hills to lighten my clothing.

The terrain was constantly sloping upwards for many kilometers, before levelling out around the Sjtäntja shelter. There were a few persons there, sitting propped up against the wall, basking in the sun. I joined them there, and prepared lunch (freeze-dried). While I was there another group came from Gåsen – they were somewhat surprised at how quickly they had gotten there, so they just paused for water and then continued downwards.

Kyrkstensfjället 1
Sun 4
Brilliant sun
Gåsen 1
Gåsen emerging
Tjallingklumpen 1
Sylarna 1
Clouded Sylarna in the distance
Lill-Stensdalsfjället 7
Looking back the way I came

After Sjtäntja, it was uphill again, now on the slope of Gåsen itself. A substantial wind had picked up, but there was no drifting snow due to the previously mentioned compactness. Upon climbing, I saw first Stora Härjångsstöten emerge, and then the Helags massif far away. After that there was a downhill slope, and then I found myself at the cottages, at around 13:45.

A note told that the warden was out on a tour of his own, so I dumped my pack in the nearest cottage for starters, and sat in the sun for a while. I was also adviced by one of the persons already there to go take a look at the water hole, which is situated a hundred meters or so to the north of the buildings. I did so, and could thereby confirm that the depth of the snow cover was some four meters. A bit later, the warden returned and offered me the choice between staying in the older cottage and moving to the new one; I elected the latter.

Panorama 1
Panorama over Bunnerfjällen, a bit up on the northeastern slope of Gåsen
Stora Härjångsstöten 1
Stora Härjångsstöten rising, with clouds rolling over it
Härjångsdalen 1
Looking into Härjångsdalen
Härjångsdalen 2
Again, at a better angle
Helags 1
First view of Helags
Helags 2
Better view of Helags
Water hole 1
Thick snow cover...
Panorama 2
Panorama view from the Gåsen cottages – I really like the location of this site

Having settled in, I put on my skis and started climbing Gåsen. I didn't go all the way to the top, though; I stopped about halfway, having rounded enough of the rise in a clockwise direction to get a good panorama view of Härjångsfjällen, Helags, Sylarna, and a bit of Norway. I then had some fun gliding down again, doing my best to do proper turns and such. I collected one light fall, in the last sharp incline right above the cottages.

Panorama 3
Panorama view from the southern slope of Gåsen, about halfway to the summit from the cottages

I then sat in the sun out on the porch, reading things I found inside and having some kind of instant soup left behind by previous guests (as powder, not liquid). Later on, I made dinner in the by then somewhat crowded kitchen – more people had been arriving, and there were just a handful of beds free. The night before had been "worse", though, when there were a good deal more people than beds, so sharing ensued then; Easter is a popular time to visit the fjelds. The two buildings offer 48 beds together, but the lodging record is – or at least was up until that time – 99 (!) persons. Since there's nothing but snow and cold for as far as the eye can see, "Sorry, we're full" isn't exactly something that one wants to hear when arriving in full blizzard in the last light – and, consequently, it is never uttered.

Sun 5
The sun setting behind Gåsen
Gåsen cottages 1
The newer cottage in the twilight
Dusk 1
Pretty dusk...
Helags 3
... over Helags
Moon 2
The moon rising

Later in the evening, when darkness had fallen and I was sitting in the common room reading by candlelight, some people who had been outside came in and motioned the rest of us to go out as well and watch the moon rise. I and a few others heeded that call, and were rewarded with a spectacular show, seeing the glowing globe climb above the ridge just east of the cottages; there were no obscuring clouds, so it was almost like a sunrise on some faraway planet circling a smaller star. The ever-present snow brought the landscape to life, and Helags could be seen clearly in the eerie blue tint. Marvelous.

Still a bit later, while I was having my evening snack, those who were still up saw headband lights outside – apparently some very late arrivals. Those turned out to be two guys who had been up to the summit of Gåsen, and watched the moonrise from there. At first they had been rather confounded as to what was happening – they had been looking west, locating the beacon lights of Storulvån and Blåhammaren with ease, and then turned east to find the sky ablaze. The instinctive thought "What? Is that the Gåsen cottages!?" quickly gave way to rational realization, as the moon ascended out of hiding. I spoke with them for a bit, while they had a late dinner, and then went to bed.



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