We sit on the eastern edge of a vast lake, with shores in Sweden and Norway, surrounded by hills. The sun sets over the western shore and as we unpacked the sleds, secure in the knowledge that we'd be camped here for more that 24 hours, we were treated to a spectacular sky.
Mark and I began to pitch the tents whilst Laura, Steve and Andy set up and helped Gaynor and Miloš with the dogs. Although the weather was calm they sensed a change and as we are to be here for a while it was important to dig out holes for the dogs to sleep in and line them with straw that it kept in the long-drop shed for that purpose.
Rob took over the kitchen and was in his element. Once the fire was lit in the wood burner he could start on the culinary highlight: reindeer steaks and 'brown sauce' with Gjetost/Brunos and Aquavit, potatoes, peas and spinach. Quite how he managed to cater for us all with such an ambitious meal using a wood burner and a tiny camp stove is a mystery to us, must be the Norwegian ancestry. It's certainly a step up from the hot dogs from a can and now we're keen to keep him tied to the kitchen during our stay at Kamaz, in fact Gaynor and Miloš are thinking of offering him a job as expedition chef.
Miloš got the sauna lit and we brought water up from a hole, which had been left in the ice, close to the sauna hut. The hut is not the most efficient of saunas, being uninsulated and full of holes, but any opportunity to get clean was most welcome and once camp was set the girls took first crack. When you haven't undressed for a few days and your hair has been under a hat and hood, we discovered that even the sound of someone else washing their hair can be a joy as we took turns to pour the cold water over our hot, sweating bodies. We toasted Elsie, our companion of last year, who always screamed "it's divine" at the top of her voice when dousing in the sauna.
The boys were desperate to get in and hurried us out by stamping on the doorstep as we all tried to get dressed in a space no bigger that a cubicle. We made our way up to the cabin determined to have a 'girlie chat' before they returned, we talked shoes, shoes and shoes. Gaynor got a shock about an hour later when she thought she saw the boys retuning through the window but realised it was time for a their naked snow roll.
By the time we all retired to our various sleeping areas the wind had really got up. I've lined my tent with skins and have all my kit inside but once I was in my sleeping bag I discovered that my tent, being the most westerly, was acting a both sail and windbreak for the others and felt as if it might take off at any moment, I felt like Dorothy. By morning it was snowing and so I've grabbed my warmest clothing and am back in my sleeping bag, after all there is no schedule for today and this is an interesting way to have a lie in, in a blizzard, in fact I might just stay here...