There were quite a few high veils in the morning, but it was still and getting warmer quickly. It felt like I had been inactive for quite some time, so now I wanted to take advantage of the more stable weather and do something more substantial than just walking around the premises. The elderly couple had struck their tent and came up, intending to spend what was probably their last night inside, and after saying goodbye I set out for an ambitious day tour at 09:45.
Nothing appeared to have happened in my absence, so I proceeded straight to the stream, where the submerging was back to "cold as heck". As I returned two people with three dogs just arrived, and they shopped like crazy before beginning an extended break. I spoke some with the older couple, finding out that this was their 43rd consecutive year travelling through the fjelds together. They had now decided to go for the chopper, and managed to get hold of the company with their satellite phone. A single American man then arrived, after which it was dinner time.
When I had just finished up a helicopter arrived – not to fetch my guests (that was booked for the morrow), but rather to deliver fresh ones in the form of a quartet of Ĺlandic ladies. There was something familiar about them, I thought, and eventually we could all conclude that we had previously met in Tarrekaise on my way out to Sĺmmarlappa all those years ago. I used the evening to bake another cake, employing the last of Emma's cloudberry jam to liven it up a bit. After I had tried it out with my evening snack, to great success, a single Norwegian came in, having walked all the way from Cunojávrihytta(!), and he would aim directly for Nikkaluokta the next day. Also impressive. That was the last that happened, and it was a weary warden that entered his bed at 22:15.
It was raining in the morning, coupled with low drifting clouds, and the Ĺlanders were therefore biding their time as they had only the short stretch to Nallo to cover today. The older couple were waiting for the helicopter to arrive, the precise time of which was up in the air (pun not initially intended), and I talked some with them while the weather improved. I started another bread baking session, and while the dough rose the chopper made its appearance. Since I knew of its arrival beforehand this time I had taken the opportunity to prepare some heavier letters for transport, thereby reducing the amount (and weight) of stuff I would have to carry with me later on.
It got sunnier as the day progressed, and I spent a good deal of time out on the bench. I also went for a short walk across the stream, and when I returned I met a Swedish-speaking Austrian who was staying the night. As the time for dinner approached so did a dense haze from Stuor Reaiddávággi, bringing more rain. I knew from before that there was a waffle iron in Vistas, and I now employed it for its intended purpose. While I was at it the rain intensified by several orders of magnitude, with rumbling thunder to boot, and the inside of the cottage grew almost too dark for comfort while it lasted. The waffles turned out very well, however, and I was very satiated by the end of it.
The thunder soon moved on, restoring the light, but the rain continued for some time still. A couple of campers arrived from Mĺrma a bit later, and having been caught in the intense shower they were now in need of drying. Visttasjohka had turned brown due to the sudden influx of dirt from the aftermath of the rain, and has risen appreciably. With the rain now gone it was, however, a nice and fresh evening, although two more people and a dog soon came clearly displaying lingering effects (especially the quadruped). Just as I was about to go to bed a Nikkaluokta runner also arrived, and after seeing him in I could finally finish my evening procedure at 22:30.
There was more thunder – and quite a lot of it – during the night, but I slept deeply enough that it was only after independent confirmations the next day that I could be sure it wasn't a dream. In the morning things were looking up, and during the forenoon the weather shifted back and forth between rain and sun. After lunch there was a scent of burning in the air, and after I had ascertained that the source was not local the radio news gave the answer: residual smoke from the big forest fire all the way down in Västmanland – about 1000 km away – had apparently made its way up over the country, and reports had come in from other parts of the north as well.
A dark haze was deepening to the west, and just as it was about to hit four guys arrived on the Nikkaluokta trail, ducking inside with only minutes to spare before the forces of nature launched a full-scale demonstration of their power. It is not often that rain alone reduces visibility to zero, but this was one of those times. Yikes. After the worst had passed it continued to rain for quite some time, and therefore the people sheltering inside continued to do so.
After dinner the Meditator made another appearance, having been around and about since last time, and shopped substantially just like before. Looking outside I saw something I first couldn't quite place, but which I quickly realized was the Stuor Reaiddávággi stream tinted a full brown, and Visttasjohka was not far behind. I obviously had no choice but to go out and document this peculiar state of affairs – much more pronounced than before – also confirming that the little water brook remained clear. There were no overnight guests this day, but a fair number of campers across the bridge as usual.
In the morning the waters were clear again – or clearer, since there was still the usual silt. After the Meditator had stopped by for a final shopping session before moving on again I washed a collection of clothes out on the porch, and having hung it up to dry I went out for a lunch tour at 10:45.
Having noted that all tents were gone at the closest campsites, I proceeded to the western end of the flat expanse to check out the spot favored by the Meditator, finding a couple of nice patches there as well. I continued up the gravel hills and then followed a faint path through a narrow band of trees, coming out in the slope leading down to the waterfall everyone stops to gaze at when going to or from Nallo. I decided to try to reach the bottom of the rather steep ravine, and with some effort did so. Here the splash of the fall created quite a bit of moisture in the air, so I didn't stay long, instead picking my way up to the next hilltop.
After pausing for a while I crossed the Nallo path, and coming onto a nice spread of cloudberries just before the wetter mire I picked it clean. There was plenty more towards the end of said mire, and I collected about a liter's worth before pausing for lunch on the far side around 12:15. Clouds had started to pass in front of the sun, growing in size, and further down Visttasvággi it was rather misty. Having eaten I continued up onto the little bump on the ridge leading up to the "phone hill", where I sat down in a warm wind to do some online work, mostly managing well.
I had seen some people at the cottages, two of whom were still present when I returned around 14. After a not-terribly-cold bath I relaxed with the radio, listening to one of the most moronic political debaters I have ever heard (and that's saying something). The rest of the afternoon was misty, with some nice light effects, and saw the arrival of two Sälka wardens who had just finished their period, so I talked a bit with them. Then it was time to produce my own cloudberry jam, which went well despite the fact that I completely winged it.
After meeting another visitor to whom my online presence was known I started dinner, and at its conclusion a Japanese couple arrived. More people came and went – and stayed – during the evening, which was again a pleasant one, and it wasn't until late that a light shower hit – something the forecast had warned about all day. Since the resulting effect with the setting sun was very pretty I quickly resolved to make sure to photograph it before bringing in my laundry, but it actually made little impact on the latter.
There was another visit from an elk the following morning, and a bunch of us stalked it until it moved on. Most of the humans also moved on, but the Japanese and two of the campers (one of whom had fallen ill) were to remain. Around lunch a trio of runners came from Nallo, and they took a shop-and-food break before continuing to Tarfala.
After I had had lunch myself I spotted lightning far beyond Čeakčabákti, causing a distant rumble, and things were in general much darker over there. Before long said mountain was completely enveloped in a heavy shower, but as it turned out this moved northwards and never got to Vistas. Instead a lighter shower came from the south, but it was over in no time. The rest of the afternoon was rather nice, but the clouds had started to sink.
Just as I was finishing up the dishes a couple of Swedish ladies came from Alesjaure, one of whom was quite distraught since she had apparently forgotten her wallet (with all that entails) before leaving that morning. There was also a young girl outside, who had run ahead of the rest of her family, which turned out to consist of a single father and two more little sisters. After that the STF group I knew was on the way started to arrive – only they were ten instead of the previously announced six, but since one half of the upper cottage (containing ten beds) was free at the moment they were in luck.
This group, as well as the dad, had also acted as chocolate carriers; Alesjaure was aware of my shortage in that regard, and had sent a collection of the coveted goods with these willing souls. I made room for this as well I could in the cramped shop, and the Japanese took advantage of the situation at once. After a fruitless attempt by the group guide – who was known to me from Abisko – to raise Alesjaure by way of satphone, I placed a call to the police on the radio link instead, and discovered that the missing wallet had already been found and reported, and plans were made to return it to its much relieved owner.
The clouds were now breaking up a bit, and the wind which had increased during the day had diminished, and by the time I closed the door only some clouds in Stuor Reaiddávággi remained.
On a nightly outing I exited the door, looked left, took a step down, looked right – and almost tripped over an elk. Oops. Both the night and the morning were clear, and the group intended to make use of this for a day tour to Vássaloamijávri – most of them, at least, as a couple were staying behind. I talked for a good while with them as they readied themselves outside, and then did some cottage work. An older fellow soon arrived, having come from Tarfala the day before, and now took a break before pressing on towards Mĺrma. Two of the group had returned, having only gone up to the first crest along the path, and soon thereafter the two who had stayed from the beginning were to go up a bit through the forest. I talked some with the single man until he left, and then went out on a little lunch walk myself.
I went straight into the forest behind the cottage, soon coming to the clearings I had discovered earlier, going up a little bit to get a better view. There I sat down and had my lunch, thankful for the pleasant wind that tempered the heat. I reclined for quite some time, enjoying the nice day, and then followed an elk path down to the wetter area. There I turned back, tracing the edge of it at the base of a slope; here the forest was denser, but mostly gave no trouble and was nice to walk through on the whole. I came out at the bottom of the field at 12:30, just after a trio of Germans had arrived.
They were headed to Tarfala and only wanted to shop before moving on, so I took care of that. The returners were still out, so I talked some with them as the late starters were coming back. There were some more passers-by, and later on the remainder of the group started coming down as well. Those already present had set about producing pancakes for a sturdy afternoon snack, which was hindered by a sudden failure of the gas system – the cause of which turned out to be as simple as a closed valve on the spare canister. I enlisted some help in replacing the emptied one – these things are heavy – and was then invited to the pancake feast.
Having been thus strengthened a few of the others then wanted to go out and look for cloudberries, and I pointed them towards the phone hill. This turned out well, and I gave them some sugar which I had large quantities of. After dinner I spent some time outside with select portions of the visitor contingent until the veiled sun passed behind Siehtagas. Then it was time for the group to have an Indian-themed dinner, and I was also invited to the dessert – for the price of a blueberry bindi.
A bit later there was more trouble with the gas, this time in the form of a stove burner that didn't, well, burn. This is a known problem, and the solution is usually to rinse the burner, which can become blocked by food residue over time, and I did so, leaving it to dry overnight. Outside the temperature was dropping appreciably but it was still nice and mostly clear as I called it a night around 22.
I got up after 7, and just caught the group outside as they were about to leave. The night had been clear, and the early morning when they had arisen as well, but then low clouds had rolled in, and now the ceiling was very low – a bummer for them, as they were to walk all the way to Tarfala. I put the burner back in the stove, finding that the rinsing treatment had been successful. After breakfast I had some garbage-related work to do, during which things slowly got lighter. Patches of sky were appearing, and the sun started to break through in places. A helicopter flew in from the north and landed unexpectedly, delivering a larger batch of chocolate – finally – before continuing with its passengers towards Nikkaluokta.
When I had my lunch outside it was almost entirely clear, so that boded well for the group. There had been some day visitors, and now two more stopped by for a lunch of their own – at least one of them was 77 years old, and they moved slowly through the fjelds as they had no times to meet. I rearranged things in the shop, making room for the new stuff, and ended up with a good display.
There were some more arrivals, two of which were in the form of a pair of young women who were unsure about their continued journey seeing as how they needed to be in Nikkaluokta in time for the afternoon bus the next day, but had no tent – and no phone with a carrier that could reach the boat transport down the valley. For the time being, they relaxed in the beautiful afternoon and considered their options. A woman came from Alesjaure and warned of more people on the way, so I took the opportunity to have dinner (and dessert) before they arrived.
The girls had now decided to continue resting, and start the long walk around midnight, foregoing the boat, and therefore got to reside in the lower cottage which was empty. Later on the school class which I had heard about started to arrive – they were twelve in total, plus two leaders, but since only four were to stay indoors there were no problems. When things had quieted down – there was quite the shopping spree – I listened to the weather forecast, and then went down to the girls to relate what they could expect for their nightly adventure, and then closed up for the day.