Norway - west to mountain-walled Lake Roldal
( Originally Published 1907 )
Direction—The map shows that we are looking nearly west. Surroundings—The saeter and the dairy maids are away up behind us. The snow-drifted Pass is still farther behind us.
Here we are actually over the "divide," and indeed it seems a steep enough plunge we shall have to make when we go on. The irregular slope is in fact far steeper than it looks from here, for our outlook from above foreshortens the grade of the road and minimizes its difficulty. At the first glance one is pretty sure to underestimate both the distances and the steepness of the grade. Each loop is really a great deal higher than its predecessor, one practically piled on top of the other. If we notice the apparent size of the horse and stolkjerre down there on the highway, it will help us to realize how far it is below this mountain shoulder from which we are looking off. It was a tremendous task to build that road and set up the guard-stones—a tremendous task also to keep it (as they do) in good repair. But Norway's natural scenery is practically one of her most available resources for money-making, and in the more enterprising districts people are generally awake to the desirability of encouraging summer tourist-travel as a source of income for themselves.
Goodman's Best Tour in Norway tells how the author came up here from Roldal and took "short cuts across the windings of the road, which, as we looked back, lay like a coiled ribbon upon the ground behind us." This is what he saw !
The general formation of the Scandinavian peninsula has been described by geographers as resembling that of a long wave. Beginning at the comparatively low shores of the Baltic over in Sweden, four hundred miles away behind us, the land gradually rises higher and higher and higher like a billow that swells bigger and rounder—then, like the billow, breaks into a confusion of shattered forms just as it reaches the Atlantic. Here we begin to see the picturesque force of the analogy, for we have now passed the height of land, and indeed salt tides are sweeping at this very moment along Aakre Fjord only six or eight miles in a straight line beyond that ragged, broken line of mountain-barrier above Lake Roldal.
See how the character of the country has changed since we came down over the Pass. Though the mountain framework is still so wild and grandiose in effect, spruces, pines and firs find soil enough for vigorous growth.
As one follows the road still farther down toward the head of the lake, he presently finds cosy hollows where farmers cultivate little fields and build permanent homes. The red 32 on the map marks where we are to pause for a few minutes in company with a Norse farmer's family.