The Fjord of Trolls

Yes, Trollfjord. The fjord of trolls, I guess. A tourist destination, nonetheless, due to its beauty. So much so that the regional ferry, the Hurtigruten, and cruise ships divert into this two-kilometer cleft while on their runs.

As you enter the fjord, the waterway narrows to just over a hundred yards wide. The vertical cliff faces leap out of the water and tower over the boat, while wispy waterfalls cascade from the heights in a series of steps until they reach the sea. Carried on the wind are the songs of unseen birds; perhaps it’s just wishful longing on my part, but one song heard several times sounded suspiciously like that of the canyon wren.

Three-quarters of the way in, the fjord widens a bit and the walls slip back away from the water, enabling one to see the high peaks and snowfields that feed the waterfalls. One creek enters the fjord at its head, beside an improbable home and what looks to be a small hydropower facility. Also improbably, many years’ worth of morons have painted their names and nationalities and boat names on the cliff walls, the graffiti as out of place here as a condom vending machine in the Vatican.

Also improbable about the whole of this Norway experience thus far is the dearth of wildlife. Since our sea-mammal welcome to Bodo, we’ve seen a few breeds of seabirds and little else. No whales or dolphins, no seals, few visible songbirds and certainly no megafauna like wolves or mountain sheep or bear. I know I compare Norway to Alaska too often (wrongly and unfairly, I admit), but knowing that such animals don’t even exist in the landscape lessens the experience. It’s as though there’s one piece missing smack dab in the middle of the jigsaw puzzle, and even though you correctly placed 9,999 of the 10,000 pieces, the picture is an imcomplete one.

We did see half a dozen sea eagles as we left Lillemolla this morning. They launched from the rocks along the shore as we passed (they seem to be much more skittish than the bald eagles back in Alaska) and in no time at all soared to great heights, circling on the updrafts in front of the island’s cliffs until they were just large specks on the cloudy sky.

Now we’re idling at the head of the fjord. A handful of guests have gone ashore for a short hike while another handful are fishing from the dinghy. I don’t know what the current game plan is but I’m hopeful we’ll do something to observe this evening’s solstice. I always try to mark the solstices and equinoxes, no matter where I am; it’s the last part of my so-called Zen Taoist New Testament pagan belief structure and part of my insistence that, regardless of ideology, race or nationality, we are all still human animals and part of this self-contained life-support system we call “the universe” and “Earth.” And the summer solstice is especially noteworthy here in the land of all-night winter darkness: having the all-too-brief light present 24 hours a day is worth celebrating.

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