Locality 17 (Arendal) The Hidden Valley

Upon our recent expedition in the Stinta area of Arendal we came across a hidden valley in the middle of an otherwise densely populated are on the outskirts of the small town centre. We had entered a marvelous canyon above what appeared to be several sites of abandoned ruins. A hidden path at Stintetoppen ran through a land of matchless charm. It had the majestic grandeur of the Canadian Rockies, as well as the startling beauty of the Nuuanu Pali near Honolulu, and the enchanting vistas of the Koolau Ditch Trail on Maui.

In the variety of its charms the power of its spell, I know of no place in the world which can compare with it. Not only had it small peaks looming below the clouds overhead; gigantic precipices of many-coloured granite rising sheer for hundreds of feet above the valley, it had also, in striking contrast, orchids and tree ferns, the delectable beauty of luxurious vegetation and the mysterious witchery of the jungle. One was drawn irrisistibly onwards by ever-recurring surprises through a deep, winding gorge, turing and twisting past overhanging cliffs of considerable height.

Above all, there was the fascination of finding here and there under swaying vines, or perched on top of a beetling crag, the remains of a bygone race; and of trying to understand the bewildering romance of the ancient builders who, ages ago, sought refuge in a region which appears to have been expressly designed by nature as a sanctuary for the oppressed, a place where they might fearlessly and patiently give expression to their passion for wooden walls of passable beauty.

Traversing the valley, our expedition suddenly encountered a wild animal watching us from a ledge above the concealed jungle trail. One of the native porters suggested that this mysterious golden cat creature was an animal spirit, a ch’unel, a supernatural companion with an intertwined fate with a Shaman. The conclusion was drawn that the past valley inhabitants had somehow managed to transform themselves into animal spirits to protect the valley sanctuary which we were trespassing. While the porters abandoned our gear and hastily returned to their villages, the wild cat disappeared into the jungle never to be seen again.

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