Morning at Pieskehaure. Minus 24 C

The morning is strikingly clear, a clarity unique to this place. The thermometer shows -20°C, and within the upcoming hours, it's expected to drop another five degrees. The cold transparency sharpens my perception; now and then, I unconsciously find myself seeking reasons to venture outside, be it for firewood or to tend to the dogs, who are rested and awaiting breakfast. The sun-kissed mountains seem to whisper something about reality, though I struggle to articulate it, lost in endless contemplation of their contours.

Realizing I've packed too much food for myself, I leave extra pasta and supplies in the pantry. But for the dogs, their appetite is hearty, and our reserves are now depleted. Around 11 AM, I release the snow hook, placing Torve in the lead.

From the outset, Tomi isn't pulling at full strength, which starts to worry me. It's the first time I consider the possibility that someone might need to catch up with me, or at least with the dog, so the rest of us can continue the journey. As I observe, Torve behaves differently—she charges ahead on steep inclines, sometimes with a scream pushing the sled out the stuck position, amplifying my concern for another, potentially injured dog. Yet, it seems to stem from her enthusiasm and determination. We conquer the significant ascent; the terrain now levels moderately towards the Vaimok mountain station. Today's plan is to proceed further and lodge in the cabin at the pass before Tarrekaise.

Gradually, we're enveloped in a white fog, and the wind strengthens. The dogs are in good spirits, Tomi included, and I'm slightly relieved about his health. However, the weather isn't improving; we swiftly find ourselves lost in a greyish-white cloud, with the sun intermittently peeking through. A sensation tells me these gusts are temporary; mountain weather changes abruptly and unpredictably. Unsure of the source of this feeling, I let it be. Upon reaching the mountain lake, the trail vanishes—snow blown smooth by the wind—as we grapple once again with navigation. I halt for a break; the unexpected weather change catches me off guard. Stress affects the dogs too; Tomi growls at Trond, undeservingly. He seems uncertain and behaves skittishly. I reshuffle the dog positions, placing Tomi ahead of Torve, hoping it will foster better teamwork. Standing still for too long, I start to feel the chill.

Pressing on, I hope the wind will abate, but it persists, occasionally lulling, making me hopeful for the morning sun's return. Yet another lake emerges, with the Vaimok station on its shore. Opting not to stop, we maintain pace, planning lunch later. Midway across the lake, we lose the trail once more, necessitating careful navigation to ensure we don't miss the path diverging further into the mountains. Meanwhile, the wind persists, gusts intensifying. My confidence wavers; I'm less certain of my decisions. Ahead, Tomi doesn't support Torve; he seems more of a demotivator, impacting the team's dynamic negatively.

Guiding the team toward the lake shore, I finally spot red crosses marking the trail. Negotiating uphill through deep snow, we create switchbacks to alleviate the steepness. Once again on the trail, I would have heaved a sigh of relief, if not for someone else breathing so strenuously. The dogs are confused and fatigued; emulating Tomi, they dig holes in the snow and curl up, shielding their noses from the biting gusts. I pause. I still await the gusts' subsidence; my faith, of unknown origin, persists. Perhaps because the mountain cabin is only 7 km away, and I'm being stubborn? I sip tea and, after half an hour, decide to return to Vaimok—it's safer. Though just one among the team, I must decide for everyone. And the dogs will remember if I let them down. The taste of mistakes lingers, yet I shouldn't dwell on them. Redirecting the dogs in the opposite direction, reassuring them that all will be well, I shift positions again—Greenlanders in front, Tomi at the rear. He seems utterly drained. The wind remains strong, but with a slight decrease, though our pace remains slow. After less than an hour's ride, the cabin's outlines appear, and the dogs eagerly step forward, anticipating a well-deserved rest.

Tethering the dogs in front of the cabin, I seek the steward, responsible for this remote settlement's upkeep. The lady is amiable; however, stress clouds my ability to hold a coherent conversation, a fact I finally acknowledge. I'm concerned for both Tomi and the others—have I thrust their spirits into complex situations too abruptly?

The dogs have dinner and rest, and I ease up too. I've examined the dogs, including Tomi, finding no sources of pain, maybe just slightly sensitive paws. Applying ointment to soothe minor injuries seems to bring him comfort.

Gradually, I gather myself, sketching plans. Today's journey was short, although navigation indicates 30 km, certainly not the easiest path to this point. Tarrekaise lies 15 km ahead, and reaching the outpost tomorrow seems feasible. But first, I must gauge the dogs' condition; it's possible we should remain here and await help.

Chatting with Kristīne, another traveler staying overnight, I learn she's almost 60. I realize I still have ample time in life to explore unpaved trails.

The weather outside remains unchanged; the wind persists, affirming my conviction in having made the right decision

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