The clouds were still present in the morning, with some fresh powder on the peaks, and the wind was still on the weak side. The North Peak did make an appearance at one time, but then it was back to the moving cap. I packed up and cleaned, and after talking some more with Lars I left at 09:30, wearing the wind jacket for its primary purpose (but putting the gloves away for now).
The first bit of the trail was, as mentioned, stony and a bit troublesome, and the continued section passing above the Tarfala research station was also on the uneven side. I caught up with a family of four at the memorial plaque for Valter Schytt, one of the pioneers of the research in the valley, and went on ahead. A light rain had started, but I thought nothing of it, and now the ground was easier to walk upon. I met two runners and then the trail started to descend more steeply for a bit, after which I met another two people (who were not running). Darfáljohka was very silty and swift despite the no-longer-warm weather, and after another slope down on a well-trodden path I came to a couple of newly erected bridges over it, built to provide a detour around an otherwise cumbersome stretch of slanting rock fields.
Unfortunately, an avalanche had damaged the upper one of these, and there was a helicopter-carried inspector on site to survey the damage before repairs would be carried out. In the meantime there was a smaller temporary bridge in place, and I used that to get to the western side of the stream, where the ground was very nice. The lower bridge carried me back to the eastern side, where I was suddenly thrust straight back into summer: the osier was sprouting, and the flowers were all in bloom. Funny how different places fairly close by can have such widely differing climates. A weak sun lended what support it could as I continued on the trail, meeting more and more people, and the last bit to the main Darfáljohka bridge was verdant and nice.
The view west opened up on the rise making up the eastern edge of the ravine this bridge spans, and I also noted that the trees across Láddjuvággi were all orange – differing climates indeed. After the bridge the trail was a small road, this being one of the most frequented routes in the whole area, and indeed the whole mountain range, and I picked up speed. I continued to meet people, of course, and there were tents all around – not least in the short segment of forest before the fjeld station, pitched in spots most of which I would not have considered eligible myself. The last bit was well furnished with walkways and signs, but there were not quite as many people about as might have been expected when I reached my destination around 11:45.
I went inside at once, and after some straightening-out in the reception I got all my business sorted, including the picking-up of a parcel I had sent in advance back in March. The station's visitor pressure was still high, but owing to my early arrival time I did get a bed upstairs, which was precisely what I had hoped for. Having dumped my stuff there I went up to the service building to have lunch, and then ran across Lena, another warden colleague I've met on several occasions before, who was now part of the station staff. That position of hers and the aforementioned pressure didn't allow for the longest of talks, and instead I sat down in the still calm common room to finish up my report.
The advertised wi-fi was down, and had apparently been so for quite some time, so I had to rely on the mobile net to do some catching-up that needed to be done, and after checking out some refurbished areas I went to have a sauna. The temperature wasn't that great, so I didn't stay for too long, but at least I got to see a hare outside the window. I rinsed my undershirt and hung it up to dry, and then got back to online tasks until it was time to gather for the first of the two dinner sessions offered. It was very nice to experience the new restaurant with its new direction, and the quality (and quantity) of the food was excellent. Behold, the menu:
- Hors d'œuvre: fish and reindeer buffet
- Main course: sautéed suovas with potato puree, mushroom sauce and lingonberries
- Dessert: vanilla pudding with blueberries
Back up at the beds there was some mild commotion arising from an apparent double booking, but it eventually resolved itself; good thing, as the station was filled to capacity, which it had been for most of the summer (usually well above, too). It was now time to start thinking about the continuation of things, and there were two factors working against the full tour that I had planned: the weather, and the state of my boots. Neither looked very promising, but after a good deal of deliberation I arrived at the decision to cut the trek a bit short, keeping to the trails at the end rather than the free-range thing I had in mind, and set about adjusting the pack as well as the smaller parcel I was to send home via helicopter mail before leaving. All the common areas of the station were now full of people, and I was neither the first nor the last to turn in after 22:30.