Mountain Pass

"I'm out of Alesjaure, only around 11 in the morning. Better safe than sorry. Such journeys teach one to pay closer attention to each step, each connection, and each decision. Overconfidence leads to mistakes and in the wilderness, errors aren't so easy to fix. This morning, Skudra broke away from her stake-out (the small lock just broke apart, perhaps the cold changes the strength of material), ran off to chase a small dog belonging to the camp manager. Emotions burst as Skudra startled the little one. After a while, we spoke again amicably, understanding that although it was an incident we could avoid, it wasn't due to irresponsibility - nobody had let the dog roam freely; perhaps the little one was left unattended. I provided the manager with ointment to treat the paw, and we said goodbyes.

After leaving the camp, I immediately got on a steep descent; I decided to bring the sled and dogs down and start off from more flat terrain. Enough incidents for this morning. The day is sunny again, and I feel I've settled into my journey. The trail, which is my home for an indefinite amount of time. Today, there will be mountains on the way; I refrain from predicting how far I'll reach, moving my legs and letting the dogs lead me forward. The higher I climb, the colder it becomes, not so much due to the temperature but because of the wind. It's getting stronger, drier, and I fasten all my clothing buckles. Though the dogs aren't very enthusiastic (hard to tell if it's the crosswinds, the ascent, or both), but this time they don't give up—perhaps the storm experience has toughened them a bit.

In the afternoon, I arrive at Tjakta STF camp, where I'm warmly welcomed again. The camp hosts immediately offer hot lemonade, a tradition that will continue at other places—it's a tradition. I feel joyful; the fatigue from the climb is more mental. I also want to rest the dogs, so the idea of a longer break seems good. I promptly decide where to go next—there's still a climb of about 3-4 km to Tjakta pass and nearby a mountain cabin where I could potentially spend the night. I pay for a day's visit to the camp, it's around 5 euros, allowing me to use the camp's amenities—kitchen and warmth—without staying overnight. Soup for the dogs, sandwiches for me, and a fresh mind. After a couple of hours, I leave; saying goodbyes, the hosts even give me some chocolate, a bit expired yet good enough. Very, very nice.

After the rest, the dogs seem reluctant to continue; starting is difficult. Tomi somewhat purposefully circles the shed, back to the camp—there it was so good! Another ascent, and once we've tackled it, without much effort, we're close to arriving at the mountain pass.

I leave the dogs sheltered near the shed and start sawing wood, available in all mountain huts, to provide warmth for travelers in emergency shelter. Normally, mountain huts aren't intended for planned stays, but for emergency situations. However, from conversations along the way, I understand they are used for rest and overnight stays, it does no harm. While I'm at the shed, Skudra starts barking again, signaling someone's approach—either a human or an animal. After a moment, a person appears on the hilltop; we greet each other and head towards the cabin to rest. The Norwegian, along with his fiancée, had snuck into Sweden ignoring Covid restrictions Soon, his girlfriend will also be in the mountains; she loves dogs and wants to greet them. I briefly tell my story; the Norwegian (I quickly forget names) shows interest in my wooden pulka sled, learning it's from the Norwegian army's inventory. Later, there will be a steep descent, he warns me. I mention that it worries me quite a bit, my brakes are like using two fingers to carve through snow. He suggests wrapping a rope around the sled, adding that the rope won't be usable afterward. This turns out to be one of the most valuable tips—without it, I might not have come up with such a solution.

I cook warm dinner for myself and the dogs and keep an eye out for the Northern Lights. The sky is clear and the weather is mild. Despite the absence of the Aurora, a moonlit night in the mountains is beautiful, and with that bright feeling, I drift off to sleep on the wooden bench."

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