On A Mountain Shelf High Above Marok Village And Mirror-clear Geirangerford
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
Direction—We are facing now a little north of west. Surroundings—Behind us the crooked highway, which we have just seen, comes down over the mountains, which loom high behind and around us.
It is a mere handful of hay that can be made here, but Norse thrift turns even this patch of sunny ground to account. If a second crop can be gathered, so much the better. It is considered worth the labor even if only three inches high. Very likely the leaves of those beautiful white birches may be gathered too at the end of the season ; goats will gladly eat them in winter-time.
Many Norwegian farmers have an ingenious sort of "trolley" device for transporting hay from a field like this to a barn far below. A stout wire is stretched obliquely over the intervening void; the cured hay is tied up tightly in bundles, with a loop attachment, and made to slide down along the cable.
These people speak only Norwegian, but they courteously bid us God mor'n (good morning), and are ready to tell us what they can about this superb prospect before us. Those buildings down below are part of Marok village, but there are several more houses at the right and at the left, which we do not see at this moment. That low spire marks the village church. Those glassy waters are a part of the salt sea, and so deep that large ocean-liners can come in to anchor near the shore, but it is fully sixty miles from here out to the coast islands, the whole way just a crooked, narrow inlet, walled with mountains.
There are places along this fjord, between here and open sea, where tall cliffs drop from a tiny hayfield, like this, straight down to the salt water, and toddling children have to be tied securely to some convenient tree, in order to give them a chance to grow up. Such homes as theirs are off the traveled highway altogether, and can be reached from the fjord only by rough foot-paths, almost as steep as a ladder.
The broken peak straight ahead, with a glacier gleaming on its summit, is Mount Torvloisa.
Between us and the fjord, a little to the left of the farmer, do you see a cliff projecting into the valley, like a partly open gate? A man is standing on it, his own figure silhouetted against the waters of the fjord. Remember that rock, for we shall see it again (Position 87) from the fjord, as we look back up to where we are now.
But we are still a considerable distance from Marok by the road, for the last downward drop of the mountain is so steep that again the path has had to be constructed in long detours to this side and that. As we proceed our route comes to an inn built on another bluff, overlooking the valley, and we take our eighty-fifth standpoint in front of a hotel, where some country girls are lingering after their errand with the housekeeper.