Continually Growing Narrower.
Walls Of A Fjord.
Heights And Depths.
Nor is the water in these fjords less marvelous than the land. Its depth, in places, is estimated at three thousand feet. When we sailed up the Naero-fjord, its color was so green, and its surface so completely motionless, that we seemed to be gliding over a highway paved with malachite. Whether the coloring of these ocean avenues is due to their great depth, to the crystal clearness of the atmosphere, or to the reflection of the forests on their banks, certain it is that I have nowhere else (save in the blue grotto at Capri) seen water tinted with such shades of robin's-egg blue and emerald green. In confirmation of this fact, we noticed with astonishment that whenever the white seagulls, wheeling round our boat, would sink breast downward toward the waves, the color of the sea was so intense, that their white wings distinctly changed their hue in the reflected light, assuming a most delicate tint, which gradually vanished as they rose again!
An Ocean Avenue.
A Sublime Waterfall.
After a sail of several hours, we approached the terminus of the Naerofjord, at which is located the little hamlet of Gudvan-gen. So narrow is the valley here, that through the winter months no ray of sunlight falls directly on the town, and even in the longest day in summer it can receive the sunshine only for a few hours. It seemed depressing to remain in such eternal shadow. Accordingly, we halted only a few moments at the place, and taking a carriage which awaited us, we drove beyond the village into the ravine so celebrated for its grandeur - the Naerodal. One sees at once that this is really a continuation of the Naerofjord without the water. There can be little doubt that, formerly, the ocean entered it, and one could then have sailed where we now had to drive. And what is true of the Naerodal is also true of other such ravines. In every case the grooved hollows continue inland and upward, but the gradual elevation of the coast has caused the ocean to retreat. This is a place of great sublimity. On either side rise mountains from four to five thousand feet in height - sometimes without a vestige of vegetation on their precipitous sides - which are, however, seamed with numberless cascades, apparently hung upon the cliffs like silver chains.
The most remarkable object in the valley we found to be a peculiarly shaped mountain, called the Jordalsnut. Its form is that of a gigantic thimble, and as its composition is a silvery feldspar, it fairly glitters in the sun, or glows resplendent in the evening light, - an object never to be forgotten. Those who have looked upon this dome by moonlight say that the effect is indescribable; and, in fact, moonlight in these awful gorges and fjords must give to them a beauty even more weird and startling than that of day. Of this, however, I cannot speak from experience, since moonlight is in summer very faint in Norway, and it is only earlier or later in the year that one can see this wonderful country thus transfigured.
In driving up the Naerodal, one sees, at the head of the valley, what looks like an irregular chalk-line on a blackboard. It is a famous carriage-road, which has been blasted out of the mountain-side, and built up everywhere with solid masonry. Even now it is so difficult of ascent for horses that every traveler who is able usually climbs that curving road on foot.
In doing so, we stopped at intervals to enjoy the marvelous scenery, and especially to behold the two attractive features of the mountain. For this grand terminus of the Naerodal is flanked on either side by a magnificent waterfall; and since the path continually curves, one or the other of these torrents is constantly visible. Either of them is the equal of any Swiss cascade I ever saw, and makes even the famous Giessbach sink into insignificance, and yet these are not ranked among the best Norwegian specimens. We could not, however, appreciate them as we should have done if they had been the first that we had seen; for when a tourist has counted eighty-six cascades in one day's drive, and has just run the gauntlet of some twenty more, in sailing through the Naerofjord, he becomes surfeited with such splendor, and cannot properly realize what a glorious wealth in this respect Norwegian scenery possesses.