When high school student Arne Handegard collected plants for a herbarium in 1962, he didn’t know what kind of rarity he had pressed into his notebook. 30 years later he attended a botanical lecture, where a picture was shown of a plant he recognized: “Norwegian Sagebrush, which in Norway is only found in a large area of Dovre and in Trollheimen, and in a little area in Ry county”. Arne Handegard raised his hand: “That plant grows on Mt. Jonstein in Jondal”.
Many mountain plants are well prepared to face cold and wind. Some would surely rather face an easier life in the lowlands, but they cannot compete with the higher-growing plants living there. Most mountain plants manage to compete for light and space only if they cling to the bedrock and gravel in the harsh high alpine climate.
Roughly 550 million years ago, what is now Finse lay at the bottom of the sea - the remains of mud and clay that were deposited in this sea have ended up on the roofs of Norway. Also the thrust sheet from the continental collision has found its way to Finse, after a several hundred kilometre-long, trek through the mountains, that took several tens of millions of years to complete.
There are coal bits hidden in the sand under Vatlestraumen. These remains from a geological layer from the Jurassic Period were discovered when the undersea Bjorøy Tunnel was built in 1994. Oil- and gas reservoirs in the Troll Field in the sea west of Hordaland are from the same time. It is, nonetheless, quite surprising to find bedrock from dinosaur time inside of the outer islands of western Norway. On the Scandinavian mainland north of Denmark, there are only a very few places where one f inds rock from this time in earth history.
Holmengrå is the only place in Hordaland where we find traces of the abrasion that is supposed to have transformed Western Norway from a Himalaya-like high mountain landscape during the earth's Paleozoic Era, to a flat lowlands terrain during the Mezosoic Era. Just 400 million years ago, large and small stones plummeted down from the high mountains. Some of these stones became incorporated into the conglomerate bedrock on Holmengrå.