Norway - On somber Lake Olden
( Originally Published 1907 )
Direction—This time we face, as the map told us, almost precisely south. Surroundings—Mindresunde farm, where we saw the people reaping their barley (Position 66), is now almost directly behind us, down the lake. Grytereid Glacier (Position 67) is across the lake at our right.
If it were not for the boatmen waiting there with the flrring (four-oared boat), one might think he had left all human life behind. Cliffs and ice and clouds above—cliffs and ice and clouds below—it looks as if we had come to a wall at the very end of the world, with nothing beyond but ghosts and giants and spirits of the wind and storm. We should not be so far wrong, either, for, over beyond that horizon of glittering ice at the south, other ice fields stretch out, covering the mountain tops and filling the valleys over five hundred dreary square miles. Well might the ancient Norsemen, living in a land like this, gradually work out for themselves big, poetic notions about how the world began, and about the warring Powers that governed it. According to the old pagan mythology, it was out of the union of Fire and Frost that the giants were born, and out of the body of the giant Ymer the world was made by three brother-gods, Odin (spirit), Vile (will) and Ve (holiness). The giant's bones formed the rocks, his blood the seas, his hair the forests and his brain the floating clouds. The first human creatures were Ask and Embla, made from an ash tree and an elm. All this mortal life was a ceaseless struggle by man against the giant powers of evil, but the gods were on his side.
Even here the inquisitive zeal of the modern mountain-climber has penetrated the forbidding loneliness of the heights. A few energetic Alpinists do occasionally climb up over that cloud-draped mountain, which we see at the east (left) of Maelkevold Glacier, and come down again along the eastern slope of the glacier itself. Slingsby in his Norway, the Mountain Playground, tells how he did it, himself, a few years ago.
If we look upward almost anywhere on the banks of this lake, it is like gazing towards the top of a huge, enclosing wall. Try it, for example, at a point almost opposite here on the east shore, where the map shows a red 70. (And when you have the proper stereo-graph in place, throw your head back just a little, so that you see things at a slight upward angle.)