Norway – From The Mountain Inn At Vide Saeter Down The Vide Valley

—We are looking west-southwest, towards Hjelle by the lake, though the lake is not in sight. Surroundings—Behind us rise mountains, like those ahead. The valley continues off behind us at the right.

Until a few years ago this old house of squared logs was the only available shelter for travelers going up or down the valley, and many a tourist, hungry and tired, perhaps drenched by a sudden downpour of rain, was thankful enough for the hospitality of its sod-covered roof. Since the completion of a famous mountain road above here (we shall see it presently), travel has so increased as to warrant the building of an inn on the hillside behind us, but the saeter itself is still used by the women in charge of these cows, for their dairy work.

That is the highway of which we get a glimpse at the right of the old house. By looking sharply we can trace it a long way down the valley. The mountain which towers over the end of the valley at the right is Skaala, the same height which we saw across Lake Stryn (Position 80). Hjelle and the lake are farther to the left.

No doubt the dairy girls find life up here a good deal more interesting now that the summer brings so many travelers to break up its monotony. There is something to see besides mountains and skies, and probably those really did lose some of their beauty. through over-familiarity. There used, long ago, to be a certain dramatic element in the case of cows in a lonely place like this. Old traditions said one must keep the cows literally in sight every minute of the day, lest the covetous hill-spirits should turn them into wee creatures, the size of mice, and drive them away into mysterious realms underground. But, of course, nobody has believed a story like that for many a long year. The watching done nowadays is only to guard against letting one of the rather awkward beasts wan-der off where the cliffs are too steep and so fall from slippery rocks.

The customary way of calling the cows in at milking time, is with a long, wooden horn, called a lur. It is not musical, like the Alpine horns, but its blare carries over long distances, and the cattle recognize it instantly. Special songs (yodels) are also used by the girls at milking time.

Some sort of skin is drying on that pole behind the saeter, but it is difficult to identify it at this distance. Bears used to be common and dangerous in this region, but of late years they are rarely seen. Wolves are practically extinct in this part of the country. Maybe it is the skin of a reindeer ; those hardy creatures are quite often seen roaming wild about this region—seen, that is, at a distance; they are shy creatures, and do not willingly allow a traveler to approach very near.

The people who best understand the reindeer, and who, as a matter of fact, derive a great part of their living from the ownership of reindeer herds, are those strange aboriginal folk, the Lapps. Certain barren heights farther up in the interior, above this saeter, are favorite summer camping places for their migratory families, and there we shall find one group worth visiting. The location of the camp is marked 82.