The old pack road had 1500 steps, where cars today gas through the mountain. The time of this hard work is over, and of getting used to the steep terrain, as well; only the view from the top is much the same as before. Vøringsfossen in summer is one of Western Norway’s biggest natural wonders. It marks the transition between the older, open part of the Sysendalen valley and the younger, narrow and winding valley of Måbødalen.
Hårteigen, «the grey signpost», as the name suggests, is a landmark for mountain hikers on the western plateau. The piece of mountain is also a monument for the mighty rock layers that once covered the entire plateau.
There is a sharp transition between the wide valley at Kvamskogen and the narrow Tokagjelet. The transition is no less dramatic when we come out of the crooked tunnels far down in the canyon, and the open Steinsdalen valley spreads out before us. The canyon both separates and joins together different epochs in western Norway's history.
At the end of the last ice age the ice flowed out of Hardanger fjord in such a fury that it forced the meltwater from Voss to run back uphill toward Granvin. The glacier from Raundalen down the windy valley along the Vosso to Bolstadøyri went too slow to make the turn.
The type of underlying rock can be decisive for how many different types of plants are found in an area. In the area around Hamlagrø-lake the diversity is especially obvious. The geological conditions change much here within a short distance.
The mountains of western Norway are lovely to wander in. In Cambro-Silurian time it was the mountain itself that wandered. The mountain, or more correctly the bedrock, first moved eastward, then back a bit westward again. All this rocking back and forth in the mountains ended about 400 million years ago.
Eksingedalen alternates between wide, flat flood plains with good farmland, and narrow passages with waterfalls where the roads cling to the mountainsides. The alternations in the landscape are a result of the sculpturing work by glaciers over several ice ages, and the deposition of the glacial river deposits when the last glacier finally melted back.
If you journey along Austfjorden, you at the same time turn the pages of time back through Ice Age history. The landforms show how the landscape has developed gradually as the glaciers have grown - and melted again - in several episodes: from small cirques, we see innermost at Dyrdal, to larger fjords, like at Mas fjord further out.