12 July 2011

From Coast to Coast Expedition - Day 2

At the bottom of the Gudbrandsdal valley runs the river – sparkling, glistening, throwing itself down waterfalls or lazily slowing down its way on its journey from the mountains to the lowlands. The main road and the railway follow the river closely, connecting the valley with the rest of the country.

Beyond lie the mountains – peaks and ridges tower above red mountain farms and highlands where cattle, musk ox and reindeer graze. Rondane (the oldest national park of Norway) and Dovrefjell form part of the fabric of Norway's roof. No wonder that both local folklore and Henrik Ibsen saw this landscape as being the home of the elves.

Dovrefjell is a massive mountain range that separates the northern and southern parts of Norway. The expression "til Dovre faller" ('until the Dovre mountains fall apart' = until the end of the world) is widely used in Norwegian. It is the only place in the world where you can still experience the musk ox. They say that the descendant of the great mammoth reigned over this territory long before humans. Then, when the ice cap withdrew man wiped this beast out of Norway until in 1932 pioneers captured specimen in Easter Greenland and reintroduced them to Norway.

The beauty of the valley makes our hearts thump with excitement. Sunlit spots of colorful farms on the background of lush green are abound. Everything we see here is a testimony to those who created the settlements with their bare hands. Building techniques and perception of beauty change here, they are much different than the aesthetics of the coast. We are in the very heart of Norway.

Down in the valley then up on the mountains, down again, through sun, rain and wind we keep our eyes wide open. Driving westward, we cannot afford to miss a single shade. Soon we will get to Åndalsnes. Soon we will reach the fjords. Soon...