Norway - Stalheim's Hotel on a cliff above the Naerodal
( Originally Published 1907 )
Direction—We are facing now about south. Surroundings—Steep, rocky pastures are all about us, dotted with berry-bushes and birches; dark pines and firs cover still higher slopes around us.
There is Stalheim's again, and we can now get more of an idea of the cliff (Stalheimsklev) on which it stands. Our last position (55) was up on that steep hill which now shows above the hotel, at the right. The long valley which then faced us is now off at our left. Directly facing us at this moment we can see little Stalheim river making a valiant leap to the valley below, and getting torn to snowy rags in the process.
Those heights which close in the southern horizon straight ahead, stand between us and parts of the country which we have already seen. Forty miles or so from here, in a nearly straight line, are the Skjaeggedal Falls (Position 42), and about as far beyond them in turn lies Roldal, where we saw the haymakers and the village by the lake (Positions 32-33).
That zigzag road looks steep, but it is really about three times as steep as it looks ! It shows disadvantageously from this point of view, we ourselves standing at so much higher a point that the remark-able grade is considerably foreshortened. That is the road all horses have to take to get down into the valley on the way to the fjord. If tourists from an excursion steamer come up to Stalheim's just for the day, they often leave the horses down at the base of the long hill and ascend on foot. There are shortcuts across the zigzags for those who wish to save time by means of a stiff climb.
It is a mountain paradise up here in July and Au-gust. The big, airy openness has something splendidly inspiring about it, and during the brief midsummer everything hastens to grow and to bloom. As Jonas Lie, the Norwegian story-teller, somewhere says of summer in his native land :
"It is as though the sun kisses Nature all the more lovingly because he knows how short a time they have to be together, and as if they both, for the time, try to forget they must part so soon."
Wild flowers bloom gayly all over these hills, many of them the same that are common in America. Strawberries ripen sweet and juicy in the short grass. Bilberries absorb the hot sunshine and the fragrant air till their plump skins can hold no more. Butter-flies chase each other over the slopes. Meditative goats wander about, browsing on the short, thick grass, apparently free, like this one dozing on the rock, but really under the shrewd surveillance of some sharp-eyed boy or girl sent from a distant farmhouse.
But it is time for us to proceed down into the valley.
As one goes down that road, another beautiful waterfall is seen on this side of the valley to match the gleaming ribbon of Stalheim River.