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”.
Hardangerfjorden kløyver Hordaland i to. Den etter måten rettlinja fjorden skjer seg liksom på skeive inn i landet. Ikkje som Sognefjorden og Nordfjord – dei krokar og buktar seg innover meir eller mindre vinkelrett på kysten. Hardangerfjordens utforming har røter 400 millionar år tilbake i tida, då den veike sona i fjellet, der isen seinare tok grådig for seg, vart danna. Denne sona stig på land ved Lussand.
They rest there, all as one, the silent witnesses of Western Norway's saga of creation: Precambrian basement, phyllite and thrust sheet. In the end came the glaciers and sculptured the vast landscape. Along the ground or on the horizon, from bicycle or on foot - the landscape tells its story - and it tells it clearer on Rallarvegen than many other places.
Many travellers between Mundheim and Gjermundshamn are captivated by the expansive view toward Øynefjord, Varaldsøy and Folgefonna. The barren pine forest on the slopes on the upper-side of the road is not seen by many. Who would think that this area is home to rare species of plants and animals, creatures who have made their homes here for thousands of years?
Valldalen or Valdalen, the name that the locals used in past times, had been a permanent settlement for a long time, and later the biggest mountain-farm valley in western Norway. Since that time there have been many changes: Most of the fields are no longer in use. Bjørkeskogen, a birch forest that had grown in the valley for thousands of years, took more and more over. And in the valley bottom, the Valldals dam now keeps the artificially large Valldalsvatnet Lake in place.
In Ålvik quartz has long been used to produce ferro-silicon. The quartz was collected from the other side of the fjord, from the mountainside above Kvalvikane.