Tours › 2005/2006 › Vålådalen › Day 1

Saturday 31/12

Stage map 1

Vålådalen – Lunndörren

Horizontal distance:15 km
Vertical distance:+220 m
Time:4 h 15 min
Lunch break: 30 min
Dinner:Beef with bulgur and spicy bearnaise + strawberry mousse
Night accommodation:Cottage
Stage classification:Medium
Map point:Lunndörren

After having breakfast in the hotel's dining room, I went out for a bit to absorb the beautiful dawn. The day before had seen low clouds and virtually no sun, but the morning sky held only shreds of cloud with the sun clearly seeking to regain its grasp of the firmament, which promised a fair day. Then I hitched another ride, to Vålådalen proper.

Dawn 1
Dawn over Edsåsdalen
Köja 1
Icy Köja

There were some people on the parking lot by the start of the trails, and more arrived while I was readying myself for departure. I also noticed a group of three coming from the Vålådalen fjeld station, going in the direction of Lunndörren. A large cloud was drifting in from the west, obscuring the sun and giving off minuscule amounts of snow, which had stopped by the time I reached the forest a few hundred meters away, which was at about 10:30.

Right at the start of the forest, the trail passes by a fenced reindeer "pasture", and, not surprisingly, there were some reindeer about. It was calm in the forest, and I soon exchanged the thicker cap for the thinner one. After a little while, I also passed the trio, just before the main climb of the trail. Up on the subsequent plateau, however, the wind was much more noticeable, both in regards to the traces it previously had left in the snow, and its present effect on myself, and I changed back to the thicker cap. A bit later, the trail reentered the forest, which caused yet another cap switch.

About halfway to the cottages, a trail to Grönvallen branches off, which I decided to follow. It was my wish to take that route, and continue along another trail to Lunndörren which passes by Pyramiderna and reaches the cottages from the northeast instead of from the northwest. The trail I had been following up until then had been nicely packed by both snowmobiles and, as I later found out, dogsleds, which made skiing easy, but the connection trail to Grönvallen was ski-only. Still, there were good tracks, so I set off. Due to snow drift, I had to renew the tracks now and then, but since the snow was already packed underneath, that was no problem.

However, a bit after the first of two bridges along the way, the creators of the old tracks had turned back, leaving pure, untouched snow for me to wade through. And it was really so: being protected from the wind in the forest, the snow cover consisted of cold powder, meter-deep at places, and progress was very slow and very taxing. Before long, I came to the conclusion that continuing would be a futile attempt – not only because I would be extremely tired by the time I reached Grönvallen, but also because I had no way of knowing whether or not conditions would change after that. Since I had made a somewhat late start, and daylight fades quickly this time of year, that might be potentially dangerous. When I reached a tree that had fallen across the trail, I took that as a sign and simply sat myself down in the nearby slope to eat at 12:30, and turned back afterwards.

Bridge 1
The bridge over Vålån
Light 1
Winter light
Trail 1
Wind action on the trail
Light 2
More of the special...
Light 3
...light this time of year
Trail 2
Turnaround point

Once back on the main trail, I could see that the trio had overtaken me, and I could utilize their tracks, so going was easy from there. As I proceeded along the trail, the wind grew steadily stronger, and eventually I came into a region of falling and whirling snow, and all remote features faded from view. After passing a stream which was partly open, I caught up with the three women, who were removing ice formed under their skis in the wet passage.

After that, both the wind and the snowfall worsened, and the last bit was arduous. Especially the passing of a tarn was problematic, due to crests of coarse snow formed by the hard wind. During the final few hundred meters, things were almost entirely white, and spotting one of the cottages, at 14:45, was a welcome event. The drivers of the dogsleds were outside talking with the warden, who greeted me and told me to take one of currently two empty rooms.

Fjelds 1
Fjelds rising...
Fjelds 2
...above the trees
Snow 1
Approaching snowfall
Lunndörren cottages 1
Spotting the smaller cottage...
Snow 2
...and looking back
Lunndörren cottages 2
The larger cottage

I went inside, and just as I was about to enter my name in the guestbook in the common room, I heard a huge crash. I first thought that the roof had fallen in or something, but when I turned around I identified the source as one of the water buckets that had fallen from its shelf, splashing its contents across the floor – since those buckets hold up to 20 liters or so, things were quite wet. One of the occupants of the other rooms came out, roused by the noise, and she and I collaborated in mopping up the fluid. Exactly how the bucket managed to fall from a level surface was somewhat of a mystery, but the working theory is that due to the occurring winter, ice had stuck to its exterior bottom during a water-fetching run, and this had then melted inside, causing the bucket to glide progressively closer to the edge.

Once we were done, the girl offered to prepare some glögg (mulled wine), which was offered by STF to all arrivers, for me while I got my stuff in order, since I had been so roughly interrupted in that activity before. After that, I went out to the woodshed to chop some logs for the heaters. It was more dark then light by then, but I could see well enough to handle the saw and axe inside the shed, so as to avoid the still active storm outside. Inside the cottage again, I joined the two dogsledders and the three companions of my impromptu cleaning partner – one was her boyfriend, and the other two turned out to be the couple who had made the same journey as I had last Easter. Not an uncommon phenomenon in the fjelds, that.

I contemplated whether to have a sauna first and eat later, or vice versa, but eventually decided on the former, so I had a sandwich in the meantime and also prepared the dessert, which I put into the outer hall to cool off together with the meat, cheeses, cider, and wine. Later, when twilight had passed into darkness, several people arrived on ski, some even without artificial lights (they claimed to have had some problems during the last bit...). This also had the consequence that I was no longer alone in my room.

Inside 1
Cozy rooms inside
Lunndörren cottages 1
Failing light outside
Inside 2
Reading by candlelight

At around the appointed time, I went down to the sauna, bringing the soft drink I had been given by the warden with the explanation that it might otherwise burst from freezing. It was me, the dogsled guys, and the four younger people from before, and we spent quite some time there. Rolling in the snow outside was included, of course.

I left just before the others, to get a head start on my cooking, which would be somewhat extensive – at least compared to the usual procedure with freeze-dried things and the like. It went rather well, and even though the result, which was ready at around 19:15, looked quite daunting in terms of sheer quantity, I had worked up a hunger that was sufficient to stomach it. I was soon joined by the couple couple, who had dressed for the occasion: a necktie, a bow tie, a boa, and a skirt + necklaces adorned the usual tour garments. They prepared a three-course meal, complete with port, (genuine) champagne, and whiskey. Not surprisingly, everyone else present had brought some kind of extravagant food, drink, and/or accessories – it was New Year's Eve, after all.

It was fairly warm inside by then (when the quartet arrived a few days earlier, just at the start of the manned period, the indoor temperature was below freezing), due in part to the continuous fire in the iron stove, and in part to the number of people in the same place. Even though the cottage was filled to near its (primary) capacity, the occupants utilized its facilities mostly in a serial manner, so there was never any congestion or crowded feeling. The five of us at "my" table were soon rejoined by the sled drivers, and we sat there conversing for the rest of the evening. Eventually, when people started taking out their snacks 'n' sweets, I fetched my crackers and cheeses, which I enlisted the help of the rest of the table to get rid of, and made some tea to go with it.

As the time was nearing midnight, we had talked so much about the guys' dogs that we all finally went outside to say hi to them. Charming creatures! In fact, we stayed so long with them that we just had time to go inside to get the mandatory drinks, and then joined everyone else outside below the stairs for a communal New Year's toast accompanied by sparklers. The wind had all but subsided, and there was only a light snowfall. After that, we went inside and assaulted the cheese some more, before going off to our various rooms. The snowing had increased when I made my final visit to the privy, after which I snuggled down in the warm and cozy bed just after 01:00.



Back to top  ⇑