Norway - The seething waters of the mighty Voringfos
( Originally Published 1907 )
Direction—We face southeast. It is afternoon light which shines down into the gorge from up be-hind us. Surroundings—All around us are tall cliffs, some bare, some mossy. It is just a deep cleft in the rocks into which the river hurls itself.
In a place like this it is difficult to estimate the dimensions of things, because there is almost nothing by which to measure ; however, the Iady in the white blouse, standing on the rocks part way down the bank, gives us a suggestion of relative heights. As a mat-ter of fact the stream leaps 470 feet from the brink of the precipice to the bottom of the ravine. If we compare those figures with the altitude of some familiar church spire at home they will mean more. The spray which we now see blowing hither and thither in the counter-draughts caused by the fall itself are afterward borne upward by an ascending air current, like a tremulous pillar of cloud. Indeed it was such a pillar of mist, seen from a lonely farm miles above here farther inland, which first led to the discovery of the falls themselves in the year 1821.
If we did but know it, our own sight of the plunging waters is a remarkably fortunate one, for only during a short time in the afternoon does the sun get a chance to shine into the ravine in this way and light up the sparkling veils of white. All the rest of the day that part of the narrow gorge is in shadow.
Excursions to the Voringfos and the Skjaeggedalsfos (Position 42), are considered quite thorough exploration of the remote splendors of this famous Hardanger country. The greater number of tourists through Norway do not venture so far from the main traveled ways of steamship route and dusty highway. But we are now going to see such a sight as never confronts the mere tourist, but only the trained mountaineer or the specially enthusiastic and indefatigable sportsman.
In order to understand exactly where we are to go, turn yet once more to the same map which we have been using (Map 5) and look over its extreme northeastern portion. South of the Voringfos and several miles southeast of Lake Oifjord, the map marks our forty-fifth standpoint. The distance on flat paper does not seem great, but so ragged and rough is the utterly trackless waste of heights, ravines and barren plateaux, that it takes a couple of days to reach the spot, tramping with a Norwegian guide, loaded with blankets and provisions. The thing we are to see is not stationary like a mountain landmark, but variable in location ; moreover, while the traveler is anxious to see he is equally anxious not to be seen, consequently one moves about cautiously, according to the guide's instructions, until, creeping along a ridge of bare rock at the edge of a big July snow-bank, one peers over the ridge.