[This (very long) story starts on Saturday 7 February]
It’s full moon on Monday and the moonset/moonrise co-incides with sunrise/sunset. It can only mean one thing – I have a day off and I’m heading to the mountains. I’ve booked myself to the Messlingen hostel and it’s snowing, so it’s almost a repeat of my trip from last year. Although a year ago the skies cleared for the D-day, we’ll see if I can get lucky twice.
On the way to Funäsdalen, there’s one photo-op just before Hede, I’ve driven past it too many times without stopping. Now I remedied that and took my pictures. When I started the car, I found out that the right rear wheel had locked. I got it running again after reversing a little, then forward and reverse a bit more. After a fuel stop in Funäsdalen it almost did it again, this time only with the warning lights though and the same trick fixed it again.
It was still only noon, so plenty of time for a hike. I had initially planned to do scouting, but the snowfall made it impossible, there’s just simply no views to look at in any direction. But I wasn’t discouraged, I can work with mountains and I can work with snowfall so I was bound to find something. And indeed I did, lovely mountain birches at the treeline, and then just when I was wondering if I would dare to hike to the peak of the Ramundberget mountain despite the weather, I saw an avalanche warning sign so I prompty turned back.
When I got back to the car at Walles, I got a nasty surprise – both wheels were stuck and there was no amount of coaxing I could do to get the wheels spinning. Crap. Then I had a real stroke of luck and a guy in an SUV came by, I explained the problem to him and he towed me to the road, where we hoped that the wheels would be jolted to action. Alas, no, but there was a fully equipped garage just a few metres away so the good samaritan pulled my car to it so we could give the wheels some TLC with a heat gun and a sledgehammer. I was ever so happy to get the car working again… but as I was driving down, the anti-spin and ABS lights came back on. I got down ok though, and then once again I had to do some reversing and forwarding to get it all working again.
At that point I just wanted to get to Messlingen. There would’ve been some daylight left, but I wasn’t feeling like stopping anywhere in case the wheels would strike again. The hostel turned out to be very cozy indeed and I was the only guest so I had the place to myself, a pleasant surprise after all those nasties I had today.
The snowfall continued, so there was still no point to try to do any scouting. I took the snowmobile trail from Messlingen towards Storsjö, because it was the shortest way to get above the treeline. Once I had hiked all the way up there, a snowmobiler stopped and asked if I needed a lift. Very kind of him, but a bit too late…
After lunch, I wanted to drive down to Funäsdalen and check out a few places. Except, both wheels were well and firmly frozen again. I was disgusted. And I promise you, I did not have handbrake on overnight if that’s what you’re thinking! I got a hammer from the reception but it wasn’t enough to release the wheels (note to self: buy a sledgehammer). After some thinking, I decided that my best option was to call road rescue and have the car towed to a warm garage in Funäsdalen, it will have to thaw out completely because otherwise the problem will just repeat itself like it has done. When I spoke with the people at the reception, and then with the car rescue guy, I found out that I’m not alone with this problem. Apparently a certain type of brake is more prone to these problems so when there is so much snow getting into the wheels, melting and freezing, you just get problems.
I hate my car. Ok fine, I don’t really hate my car. But I sure don’t like it either.
First thing after breakfast, I called a taxi to take me to Funäsdalen to get my car. The rear wheels were bare now – I can actually see inside, wow! But when I pulled out, the infernal beeping started again warning me about something (no warning lights were on), I guess the car didn’t appreciate all the beating it received yesterday. With every beep, I was missing that sledgehammer more and more… but as I persisted on driving along, the beeping finally stopped. I got to the hardware store and bought myself an axe (in lieu of a sledgehammer).
I seemed to be on a string of bad luck, because the snowing continued. Momentarily in the morning it had seemed like it would clear, but nix. And not only falling snow, but there was also a heavy wind whipping the trees, blowing a whole lot of snow in the air. Sometimes I can be a real optimist though, so I took the snowcat from Bruksvallarna to Kariknallen. When we got on top, I wondered if this was just another one of my stupid decisions – the wind was horrible, impossible to face it because the snow was just like small needles. Thankfully for the most of the way down the wind was on my back, so it wasn’t that bad. Lousy for pictures though, you can imagine the visibility under these conditions.
But let’s be positive for a moment. I don’t have any regrets for missing all the scouting, because the moonrise wasn’t anything to photograph anyway. Too many clouds, even if the sky was finally starting to clear.
By the evening, the sky really was clear apart from a few clouds in the horizon all around. Photographing the night sky with mountains inthe foreground had been one of my goals, but I didn’t feel like driving to a location now. Firstly, the wind was still stiff and if I felt it here among the trees, then it would be really bad in the open places where I’d need to go. I drove through snow drifts today and it wasn’t fun. Secondly, I have to re-build my trust relationship with my car. The prospect of getting stuck in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere was not appealing!
However, after I saw Orion and Sirius from my room window, I just had to do something so I set out on foot. Finding suitable spots was hard though and I had second thoughts about driving somewhere better, but in the end I just didn’t dare. I’ve had enough mishaps for this trip already.
Officially, I’m at work today. But since it hasn’t been exactly relaxing when half my mind has been occupied with whether or not the car will move, I figured that this was my last chance to get anything out of my mini-vacation (I did get an ok from my boss!). But when it rains, it pours – they called from work last night. Nothing I could do, I’m really sorry, but in the morning I was probably more stressed than I would’ve been without this holiday.
The good news? The car was fine. All four wheels spinning, I think it’s a great feature in a car. And it was also clear skies, so I had a chance to see the moonset. I watched it go down, and then waited for the sun to come up, and I was freezing for all the standing still… but I finally felt at peace again. Might be hell to pay at work tomorrow, but today was heaven.