25th Anniversary Appeal Expedition: Day 50

25-anniversary-expedition-day050Steilvasselva to Umbukta. 33km 9 1/4hrs. Only one thing is constant in life; change, and the weather has changed. I looked at the forecast last night and saw more cloud and more importantly more wind for the coming days. As a result today was relatively demanding, more so because of linking two short days into one and some tough, variable mountain skiing. The kind of skiing that the Scottish call “rugged”. North from Steilvasselva I entered the speltfjelldalen, marked as a nature reserve on my map. The Norwegians are pretty strict where snowmobiles are concerned and I wasn’t expecting to see any tracks. To my surprise a good track lead along the valley floor helping my progress immensely. The entire valley floor is also a marsh in summer. Thankfully in winter, totally frozen and perfectly flat, in fact a winter highway! The scooter trail made it a superhighway and I was at the Gressvasshytta before midday. I foolishly thought continuing to Umbukta would be as easy… But the mountains had other ideas. After negotiating a dam on foot I gained access to the Storskardet valley. This valley is no stranger to wind as the sastrugi were monstrous, and interspersed with patches of sheet rime ice and bare rock; progress slowed. My sastrugi shuffle stripped the wax from my skis and contorted me into shapes a tired body is ill advised to throw. Occasional flashes of anger quickly transformed into amusement and resignation… I’m here by choice remember. I smile, dig deep and hum “raindrops on roses…” I change the lyrics. I’m over the col and start to descend… crikey, it’s almost sheet ice here. I’m down and sliding… well that’s one way to descend out of the wind quickly. I pick myself up, eat a beond bar for a quick boost of energy and focus on getting down to the lake intact. Hours later, once again with the sun low on the horizon I reach Umbukta fjellstue… such a welcome sight! I’m a little bruised from this afternoons battle, but nothing a rest day can’t fix.

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