The wind gradually weakened during the night, which was not continuous in the sleep department. The room was pretty chilly in the morning, and I stayed in bed until around 07:30. The moon was out and the sky was clear in the southeastern quadrant, and it was fairly cold. As I was making breakfast the wind picked up again, and quite intensely so, bringing with it more drifting snow and clouds, but it still seemed clearer further out over the basin. I therefore chose thicker clothing, complete with a balaclava, and left after 09:15, having decided to at least attempt to make it to Lunndörren and simply head back if it proved unfeasible.
The recent drift had caused, well, drifts, which necessitated some zigzagging at the start. Suddenly I felt a change in ski traction and upon looking down I realized that what I had feared for some time had happened – a section of the steel edge had broken off from the ski (there had been a visible break and some bulging before). The piece was short, however, and the remaining parts looked mostly fine, so I used the metal pole to even out the rear break so as to minimize the risk that it catch on something, and from there on made a conscious effort not to apply too much pressure on the damaged side, especially when skiing over uneven surfaces.
The trail stretched over open areas which had been blown bare, so I held a lower line where the snow was good. Down at Vålån I followed the ice past a gravel brink, coming back to the trail which soon emerged onto a large area of heath which was too stony and/or too bumpy for skiing, and since the snowier southern edge was rather far off I simply carried the skis straight across it. On the other side the snow was OK, and turned good in among the trees, but as the trail started to descend I had to take to the side again, where I found hollows and copses which allowed passage. Closer to the bridge over Tronnan things took a turn for the worse, and it was obvious that the trail was not a viable option, so instead I started to climb over bumpy forest beds on the eastern side, which brought my temperature up appreciably.
A bit further ahead the continuation of this ascent looked too stony for comfort, so I turned north, passing a small mere before landing on the trail again at the base of a bare slope. Here I took off the skis a second time, but above the slope things looked up – even though there was never much snow it was passable, and the ground underneath it was mostly of the soft variety. The weather was nice with clear skies or high clouds and only weak wind, which made for a good backdrop. I kept to the south of the trail for the whole stretch of this open plateau of sorts, changing my route at one time in an effort to keep to the most contiguous area of snow, and reestablished contact with the markers as they headed into the trees at the far end. Here the snow was better, and when I came to the start of the slope down towards Finnångelflätet at noon I chose another good rock with a nice view of Ottfjället for lunch.
I dug into the food hungrily, having expended a bit more energy than usual, and then sat looking out over the cold, quiet land in a complete lack of wind. Afterwards I stuck to the trail, which had enough snow at the moment – and immediately met two people and a small dog who had elected to walk, dragging their skis on a fully-packed sled. I soon started drifting off to the side again, and towards the end of the slope I was well into the forest where the snow lay unbroken. Around yet another Tvärån the trail was good again, but the thin ice of this crossing had made the bases of my skis wet, so I had to battle overly effective friction for a while. I managed to make my way to the bridge over Lunndörrsån without taking the skis off, but since this larger stream was partially open along the side I carried them across the suspension structure – and seeing as how the heath on the other side was all bare I went on carrying them up the next slope as well in the nice afternoon light.
Near the top I found enough snow to put the skis back on, but it was not long before I broke off to the south again around Finnångeltjärnarna. Here I managed to find either unbroken snow or patchy snow upon soft and bumpy heath, so I made good albeit not exceedingly straight progress. All the while the color of the sky deepened with the oncoming dusk, and the cold heightened the experience. I was now between the ski trail and the snowmobile trail and I aimed as straight as the snow would allow for where I judged the cottages to be, negotiating a rocky hill or two. After crossing a stream within a sparse collection of trees I came to the top of a rise from where I saw them a short distance ahead, and once again the smell of firewood was on the air as I glided down the slope at 14:30.
There was still no wind and the temperature was holding steady at –15°C. Inside the main cottage I was greeted by the warden Camilla, who had maintained the fires in the two rooms that had been occupied during the night, and I chose the one overlooking the rapidly approaching dusk. After a photo round I sat down to some season-appropriate glögg and gingerbread courtesy of STF, and soon thereafter a couple of skiers arrived from Vålådalen, so they got the other warm room.
The dusk was now in full progress – and what a show it was, equal and opposite to the dawn of six years past. Back inside I unpacked and had some cheese and crackers together with the other two, and with Camilla who joined in. Then it was time for sauna, so I went over and broke the frozen surface in the hole-in-the-ice on the tarn and then went in with the others. It wasn't too hot, and it took some fiddling before the temperature was to my liking, and I stayed behind to savor it after the others had left.
Next up for all of us was dinner, after which I started feeling drowzy after a full day – and a good sauna, of course. I read in my room and then had my evening snack alone, stoking the fire in the stove, and then stood outside in the clear and still night. As if by request a bout of moderate aurora borealis appeared low in the northern sky, which marked a nice end to a pleasant day.