We were up very early the next morning to look at the river.
I know it looked a bit less lively than the previous day, but I think I’d psyched myself out of it really. With the other rivers we’d crossed, the worst thing that was likely to happen if you fell over, was that you’d get a soaking. With this river, if I fell over, I was thinking that I might well have got a very nasty battering on some rocks.
I knew James was a bit disappointed, but he’d got an alternative high level route planned instead of backtracking through the dwarf willow, so we went for that.
With getting up so early, we were packed and off by 8:30. Just as well, as it turned out to be quite a long day….
This was the first day of the trip that we didn’t waken to bright, blue skies and sun. The weather was beginning to change.
For the first few miles we climbed through dwarf willow then over grass.
And despite the change in the weather, it was going to be another day of all encompassing, amazing views.
Gradually, the grass turned to stones underfoot and the slope started to ease.
And as I got my first view of the glaciers and snow fields we were headed for, I had another little worry that we were going to end up contouring round over some steep snow fields, and I had neither ice axe nor any spiky things with me.
It was fine, though. The plan was apparently to pass just below any steep snow patches and that’s exactly how it turned out.
The whole place was starting to take on a totally different atmosphere to the previous days. Wild, rocky and on the craggy side of the high mountains, you began to get a sense of your own insignificance.
And now cool enough for me to put some more layers on, this made a pleasant change after having lost half my body weight in sweat so far on the trip.
It was utterly out-of-this-world up there and took us quite a while to make our way around all the bodies of water – including a large lake, named Balgatjavrasj – some of which were still covered in snow.
We were very carful not to go over any snow which looked a bit crater-ish, as these were possibly weak spots, a bit thinner and due to collapse with some extra weight on them.
Some patches looked solid enough, though.
I did think what a fantastic place it would be to spend the night – if you could have found somewhere to pitch the tent, of course.
We had three rivers to negotiate up here – the ones which drained the three glaciers which we were getting fairly close to.
None of the rivers were any problem to cross and we had our proper lunch break just after wading the first.
A wow lunch spot, if ever there was one!
Rounding a corner, a short while later, four people suddenly appeared over a rise on the other side.
We waved, they waved back – an almost instant connection and feeling of briefly sharing such a special place.
Some more river crossing followed, before climbing onto a high shelf under the snow fields.
If you look carefully on this next photo, you can just see James in front of me, bounding up the slope….
This shelf – underneath the peak of Loametjahkka – only went on for about a mile, but was very hard going, being talus fields all the way along.
Every step had to be thought out. Falling and injuring yourself here was not something you wanted to do.
Part way along, we had another break. Breath taking views all around, with the lowering clouds making for a dramatic atmosphere, matching the wild, lonely scenery.
It was with a sense of relief when we finally reached the end of the ledge and dropped down to more grassy walking.
We had changed direction and were now on another high ledge above, and paralleling, the Njoatsosvagge valley.
Another couple of miles, and we were nearing our planned destination for the night. That was when the forecasted rain suddenly started and we found ourselves putting on waterproofs for the first time that week.
James did some impressive navigating to get us to the only point above the Ruopsokjahka river where it was possible to cross the gully, and as I slithered down the side to join him at the bottom, I realised that after 12 hours on the go I had finally drifted off into my own little world of Tired, Hungry and Crabby. We had set off that morning at 8:30 and it was now nearly 8:30pm. An absolutely awesome day, but I was now ready to stop for the night.
I think even James might have been a bit tired, as when we crossed the river, neither of us could be bothered to do anything about trying to keep dry, we just splashed across regardless.
And after crawling up the other side, through wet grass and dwarf willow, we pitched the tents as soon as we found some flattish ground at the top of the slope.
A nice cup of tea and a hot meal later though and I was back to normal. And with yet another unbelievable view to fall asleep to.
James’ version of Part Five can be read here.