The snowfall had ceased during the night, and when I looked out the sky was still overcast, but the cloud base was high enough that everything was visible, and the surrounding mountains were nicely powdered. While I was making breakfast a snowmobile came from the north, carrying Roland from Alisjávri, who operates the boat on the lake of the same name in summer. His objective now was to deliver the tour lists for later posting, and to leave a sled of supplies for a coming trio of ladies, among which would be his fiancée. I talked some more with him before he left to pick up a carpenter in Katterjĺkk, as he too was in the process of building a cabin up in the encampment, and then I could finally sit down to eat.
It was time to do some laundry again, and after eating I went down to the lower cottage to fire up in the smaller room, and to heat water for the purpose. While I did so a haze started forming, and when I was washing it started to snow, but since it was now mild it just melted on contact with the ground. After hanging the garments I went out to the woodshed to cut firewood, and then filled the heater up; it was already quite hot inside. I switched between listening to the radio and tending to the fire, and then started another batch of bread, having lunch while the dough rose.
Just when I had completed the last piece the announced group arrived, bringing a dog with them. I went out to meet them and we spoke for a while. The drying fire had burnt down, so I restarted it from the embers and put in more logs; unfortunately it was the dog room I had chosen to act as the drying room, which meant that the only place for this group to reside was occupied at the moment. They were not worried about this, however; they were happy to sit in the other room until I was done, and the dog could easily be kept outside. I talked for a good while longer with them all out on the porch, acquainting myself some more with the dog; it was the same breed as those of Läntha's in Aktse, and was very pleasant to interact with.
A short rain shower passed while the wind grew stronger, and later in the afternoon it increased considerably, bringing more rain and sleet; it was really nasty, actually. I went down to check on the laundry, putting in the last batch of logs, and then played a game of cards with the others, during which some very hard gales shook the house. I ended up losing rather soundly, and after taking up payment I started my dinner.
The incessant rain had a disastrous effect upon the extant snow, and Visttasjohka was opening up a bit more. The laundry was now dry, and I collected it under the curious eyes of the dog, making the dog room available at last. It was now pouring down, but it was also getting colder, so I hoped that it would turn to snow before too long. At one point I got a glimpse of Šielmmáčohkka East, and saw that at that altitude it had already done so as it had grown entirely white. After a bit of reading I went down for tea and carrot cake and remained there talking for a long time, and all the while the rain kept falling.
Before I left I received a bit of cheese pie (Västerbottensost, no less), and walking back up to the main cottage I noted that both the wind and rain had decreased. I read for a while until it was time for evening snack and weather forecast, and the latter promised temperatures on the negative side of the scale for the night; at the moment, though, it was still above freezing, and I retired with the rain drumming against my window.
I dreamt stormy dreams, and it was no surprise that the wind was still very strong when I had to go out in the (very) early morning. It was also snowing horizontally, and there was absolutely no visibility to the west. Some of the women's skis had fallen during the night, and I put them under the building to be on the safe side before returning to bed. When I awoke next time the wind was somewhat lessened, but it had grown gusty instead, and still nothing in Stuor Reaiddávággi could be seen.
After breakfast there was a sudden improvement with a bit of sunlight as I walked down to the lower cottage with the morning forecast and advice about the Nallo region. The occupants were somewhat hesitant due to the wind, but had decided to at least make an attempt; unfortunately it was blowing straight from the west, so they would be going directly against the wind. It was about –4°C, and this together with the wind and the rain of the previous day had turned almost everything to ice, and walking upon it was everything but easy. When I returned down a bit later Roland had arrived; according to him things were much worse at Alisjávri, so house-building was entirely out of the question at the moment. It was some time after 10:30 that they all finally left, just as another bout of snow hit, but at least the wind had decreased somewhat.
I took it easy inside looking at a heavy snowfall, listening to the radio and resting. After lunch it was back to hard wind and drifting snow, but after a while the sun broke through weakly. Especially up in Stuor Reaiddávággi ground conditions looked bad, and just across Visttasjohka snow devils came and went. It was back and forth in this way during the afternoon, and in a period of sight I noted that the upper reaches of the surrounding mountains were now rather white again. At one point it was even calm, but then it snowed like crazy instead – which I of course welcomed, seeing as how it was still below freezing. When it was almost time for dinner Nállu emerged, which was the first time in several days that I had laid eyes upon it. After said meal it was getting windier again, and the gales were especially strong. I spent most of my time in bed, reading or listening to the radio, until it was time to, uh, go to bed.
Also this day started out very windy and snowy, and the temperature was –6°C. After breakfast it got a bit better, and there were some weak glimpses of sun. This improvement process continued during the forenoon, but the wind remained strong, and I spent the time seeking out some stuff from storage in preparation for the coming closure. In the afternoon I read this and that, seeing no further change in the weather – in fact, the wind seemed to be getting worse, and there was a virtual wall of white on the opposite side of the valley. There was obviously nothing to be gained from going outside, so I just listened to the radio instead. It was not until after dinner that the drifting clouds started to lift, but still the wind kept going strong. After some more radio, however, it finally started to diminish, turning into less powerful gusts. I read some in my book and listened to a football game on the radio, after which I proceeded straight to bed.
During a nightly visit outside I found that the wind had increased again, and visibility was fairly bad as well. However, when I arose in the morning things looked a bit more promising; there was still a fair bit of wind and clouds, but both seemed to be decreasing. Indeed, later in the morning the wind had dropped to weak levels, and the sun was coming out, with more and more blue sky showing. Things were slowly getting better all the time, and at 09:45 I went out on what I expected to be the last day tour of the season – better take the opportunity now that it presented itself.
I looked around the place, and as expected found no traces save for those of the incinerator-bringing snowmobile. I went through another one of those snack-outside-on-the-bench-while-the-washing-water-heated sessions, and again there was a fair bit of wind during it. After the subsequent wash I went out for a short walk, finding the snow rather soft, and now a large bank of clouds was approaching in the southeast. I strengthened my dinner with the pie I had received from the last guests, and an excellent pie it was. It was still very fair but windy outside, and that bank did not seem to be closing in, even though it did not look far off. Feeling slightly tired I rested for a while, reading in the book. By then the cloud bank had mostly dissolved, and the wind had died down too, and it was a terrific calm evening which called for several outside visits. I listened to a hockey game on the radio, following it to its (extended) end, after which the only sounds were those of the ptarmigans all around. As for the other senses, there was a distinct multi-season smell and feel outside, and there were only a few clouds by the peaks.
I slept deeply, awaking to light snowfall and weak wind, and since I was feeling tired I stayed in bed for some time. Later in the morning the wind increased, but now it was coming from the east. I set about taking final inventory in the shop, which I did without hurry with the radio playing in the background. Outside visibility kept shifting back and forth, and all the time the light snow fell. I did some other stuff concerning the on-site storage and such, and then finished the shop-related tasks. The clouds were lifting somewhat as I was preparing for lunch, but in the early afternoon it started getting whiter again. I started packing up my things, choosing what to put into the rucksack and what to let STF send later, and I felt perfectly on top of everything. It had now begun snowing in full, and even though the temperature hovered just around freezing it started collecting on the ground. The evening was more white than anything else, and I spent most of it reading. As I was going to bed the flakes fell at a higher rate and density, but the wind was back to weak.
In the middle of the night it was calm, and I could once again hear the ptarmigans. The morning was also windless, and it was snowing lightly, with most of the peaks visible. I remained in bed listening to the Saturday nature program, and when I went out I realized that the snowfall had produced a good fresh layer. The morning had started out cold, but after breakfast it grew mild, and it remained still. I had reserved this day for cleaning out the upper cottage, and I started in the western room, which was a cold affair at first since no one had lived there for many days. I proceeded in a calm and meticulous fashion, seeing as I had the whole day at my disposal, stopping just short of swabbing the floor, and then did the same in the eastern room. It was getting warm outside and it had started thawing, but it was still snowing.
After a lunch break I went out to dispose of the ashes, and then turned to the garbage/recyclables. Having completed this it was time to swab the rooms, after which I rested and listened to the radio. Another hockey game was about to happen, and I listened to that during dinner, while it was getting windier again outside. I packed my ski case and then settled down to read some comics, and now the snow – which had never quite stopped – had started to produce a shroud again since the temperature was falling. The wind was getting stronger, and all the fresh snow being swept up reduced visibility to nearly nothing; again the best description I can think of for the weather is "very nasty". I read some more and looked over the guestbooks, preparing to note my departure, and then hit the sack at 22:15.
I woke up around 5 to a world of white and snow, and there was quite a bit of fresh drift, but the wind seemed somewhat lessened. After having breakfast I removed the linens from the bed and packed up some things, and then went down to the lower cottage to clean that out as well. As I did so there were more of those hard gales, and the wind was quite bad also on average, but at the same time the clouds were breaking apart, letting a bit of sunlight through. I finished up inside and went out with the trash, and then it was time for lunch.
It was actually not too bad outside – or at least wouldn't have been if not for that blasted wind – as I carried some stuff back and forth, doing some final things here and there. I packed my rucksack and removed everything I was responsible for from cupboards and shelves, readying myself as best I could for those last bits of work the next morning. The rest of the afternoon held radio and comics for me, with a break for tea, and now the wind was diminishing once more. The signal light had started flashing again, and after a few attempts I managed to raise the police, who relayed a message that there would be no pick-up this evening due to the severe weather, but possibly the next day, and that renewed communication would be established then – which was exactly what I had planned for anyway.
After a final dinner-with-dessert the weather was back to bad, and the snowfall was once again intensifying. I wrote a letter to the opening summer warden, with some nice jazz playing as a background, and after finishing the comics I started (and completed) my economic report. Everything was now ready, and the only thing that could upset the coming happenings was too strong a wind, but the evening forecast spoke of better conditions on the morrow. It also spoke of 1.5 meters of snow in Katterjokk, which was the current national high; the entire northern half of the country had gotten quite a bit of snow this last week. Perceiving a slight decrease in the gusty wind I climbed into bed at 22, hoping that the tendency would continue during the night.
This the last night in Vistas I slept well until 05:30, at which time the sky was partially clear but clouds remained over the higher grounds. The wind was still keen but came in gusts, and it did not feel that cold. I went back to bed and stayed there until the morning forecast, which offered a positive prognosis for the aforementioned wind, the gusts of which came at more and more irregular intervals. As I started clearing myself out the clouds lifted somewhat, and the sun was approaching.
After breakfast I began my final packing and then set about cleaning the warden's room. Outside the wind had subsided a bit, but stronger gales still made visits. While I was tending to the recycling stuff down in the garbage shed another of those walls of white in Stuor Reaiddávággi came with snow, and the wind increased anew, but when it had passed things calmed down somewhat again. I cleaned the floors and then tended to some other last things while they dried. It was now rather fair, and visibility was good, but the wind was back to strong. At 09:45 I was all set, so I settled down with the radio for a while, to see if something would happen.
That it did: shortly after 10 two blue-clad figures appeared on snowmobiles upstream Visttasjohka, resolving into Anders and Thomas. They had obviously come from Alesjaure just then, but more importantly they had started in Abisko and not Katterjĺkk, where the weather was worse; the snowfalls of the last week had opened up the lower route again. After a short pause they pressed on to Nallo to get Sigrid first, so I signed off in all the guestbooks and then put through a call to the police announcing my departure. I selected what clothes to wear and packed the rest, and having finished everything I had nothing to do but wait, walking around a bit in the wind before once again turning to the radio. Things were taking longer than expected, but finally they all returned. By noon we were ready to depart, with Sigrid in the covered sled I had ridden in on the way out and me behind Anders upon his snowmobile.
As I knew well the stream was all ice, and the snowmobiles had some trouble getting traction. At one point Thomas got stuck out there, and it took him, Anders and me some time and effort sorting the situation out (ever tried pulling a loaded snowmobile on pure, uncovered ice?). The wind was weaker, however – as usual it was strongest around the cottage site – and once we had passed the bend before Boginjira nice snow took by; the state of the upper valley compared to my previous visit was considerably better.
Up at Vuolip Čazajávri and Bajip Čazajávri it got windier again, and on the other side of the pass the clouds were both lower and unbroken. Rather than turning north towards Abisko directly we headed for Alesjaure, since there were more wardens to get. Here Sigrid and I were dropped off as Anders and Thomas went up to Tjäktja, and we went inside to greet Hillevi, who has been in Alesjaure many winters and whom I therefore knew from before. I had rescued my food pack, so I had lunch inside the wardens' quarters in the main building, speaking to Hillevi and Sigrid. Soon we were joined by Lars-Ove, the other Alesjaure warden, and we waited together for the caretakers to return while the weather steadily improved.
After some time there was the sound of a snowmobile, and it turned out to be Jesper who had been to Unna Allakas and not picked up the warden there, since he had opted for his skis. Because some of the others wanted to catch the 16:24 train we decided to leave straight away rather than holding out for Anders and Thomas; this involved some planning to fit us all in a way that was reasonably safe as well as physically possible, but we managed – and once more I found myself sitting right behind a snowmobile driver.
The first bit across Alisjávri was slightly cold, but then it got better; I also had to remain active so as to constantly balance myself, as the snowmobile in question was not really made for two. After Áhpparjávri there was a bit of sun, and down in the forest beneath Gárddenvággi it was rather warm – and the track was soft and bumpy as a result, so progress was slower. At Abiskojaure we stopped, and I thankfully stepped off to stretch out; my stance had not been what one would call comfortable. Here we made contact with two new wardens, but these were to go to Abisko under their own power the next day, so soon we were on our way again.
After crossing Ábeskojávri the track continued on Ábeskoeatnu for a bit before it turned up to the actual trail. Here the snow cover was thinner, and in several places the ground was bare and covered with water, but we had no problem getting ahead. Later, as we left the trail again and went through the forest back towards the stream, conditions improved, and out on the ice things were good. We passed under a bridge and then turned up the other side to the winter trail to Kĺrsavagge, but then immediately turned onto the summer trail coming from the lower bridge over Gorsajohka. This we followed all the way, and I recognized some locations towards the end from my last trek here, having no trouble with the snow until the very last slope, where we almost tipped over due to a sharp incline with unpredictable traction. Having sorted ourselves out we then travelled the last hundred meters to the Njullá car road, arriving at 15:45.
Hillevi and Lars-Ove started walking over to the tourist station at once, while Sigrid and I hitched a ride with Jesper a short bit later. Outside the STF storage building we met the Unna Allakas warden, who was none other than Leif whom I attended the warden course with, and whom I have run into several times both before and since then. After some talking I went up to the reception to get rid of the money, and Sigrid followed suit.
Since it was now just ten minutes or so until the train was to depart I counted on staying for another night, since my (and Sigrid's) stuff was all left on Thomas's sled, and we had no way of knowing how far away they were. However, just as we were saying this, Jesper heard the sound of approaching snowmobiles, so we jumped back into the car and drove over to the trail start – and, sure enough, the others had just arrived with the Tjäktja wardens. After some quick unloading Anders drove our packs up to the train station, where the train was just pulling in, so we could all just get on it at once. How's that for timing?
After a slight clothes change and general breathing-out, several of us wardens got together in the restaurant cart, where I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the food. More wardens soon joined in, and in the end there were five of us there. One by one we left for our respective seats/beds – I shared a compartment with Lars-Ove – and I spent the rest of the evening reading before going to bed for another of those much-too-short nights that we residents of Östersund must endure nowadays when returning from the North.