In the shadow of a mountain, lives a poor family — a sick widow and her three daughters, Kari, Mari and Mai. At night, they rest soundly in their home, because after the sun sets in Norway many things are not the way they seem. The trees and mountains shift their shapes and trolls go about their strange and magical ways. One morning, Mai cannot find the family’s only hen. The three sisters set out looking for the hen. While searching on a mountain path, Kari falls into a troll’s lair and is cast into stone when she refuses his requests for her to be his sweetheart. The same thing happens to Mari. Mai, the youngest sister, discovers the troll’s lair and realizes what he is doing. She meets the troll and when he asks her to be his sweetheart, she accepts. Mai soon realizes that the troll also has her beloved hen, but it has also been cast into stone. She tricks the troll into showing her how to restore life to the hen using a jar of magical dust. Mai sends the troll on an errand to gather wood so that she can save her sisters. Kari and Mari escape in a sack that Mai says is filled with food.
The troll travels through the night to drop the sack off at the home of the girls’ mother. The troll can only travel at night because sunlight would cause him to turn to stone. While he is gone, Mai begins her escape. When he returns to find her gone, the troll is furious. He chases her down the mountain to her home but is stopped by the rays of the early morning sun. That is why a mountain near their home is in the shape of a troll.
According to an Aboriginal dreamtime story, the three huge rocks formation were once three beautiful sisters named “Meehni”, “Wimlah” and “Gunnedoo” from the Katoomba tribe. The three sisters fell in love with three brothers from the Nepean tribe but their tribal laws forbade their marriage. The three brothers did not accept this law and tried to capture the three sisters by force. This caused a major tribal battle and the lives of the three sisters were thus threatened. A witchdoctor decided to turn the sisters into rocks in order to protect them and thought to reverse the spell only after the battle. Unfortunately, he was killed in the battle and the three sisters remained as the enormous and beautiful rock formations until today.
Our ancestors called this “The Story of the Three Sisters” when they used to tell it. These three little sisters were out walking. They were walking toward the east, when suddenly the eldest stopped and told her sisters what was on her mind: “Oh, how can we manage to find the Creator?”
The youngest sister, who always seemed to be the brightest, quickly replied, “We could build a great big, tall house that reached up to the heavens!” The older sisters agreed that this would be a good thing to do, so they began to build. In just a few days thay had built it quite high. They put a door there on the east side. They finished the first story.
The sisters began building their second story, and again they put a door on the east side. When the eldest one opened it, she could look down and see that they were way, way up in the sky now. But they were not high enough yet.
They built yet another story and put a door on the east side. They didn’t know that God was watching them through the door that was on the north side. The eldest one looked down, but now she couldn’t see the earth, because they were too far up in the sky. Quickly she closed the door. The door on the north side opened, and a voice asked them what they were doing. They didn’t know that it was God who was asking, “What are you folks doing?”
They answered, “Oh, we want to get high enough to reach our Creator. We want to reach God!” They were not aware that were they were talking to Him.
Now the Creator said to them, “I want you girls to get in a row, and I want you to follow me.” The sisters obeyed and turned and walked through the door on the north side of their home. He lined them up there and instructed them, “You girls will sit down right here.”
The youngest girl turned to her sisters and said, “I wonder what is going to be done with us and why we have been told to do this.” They didn’t know that it was God who had spoken to them and told them to sit there until He came back. They sat where they were told to sit.
Soon God returned. He saw that they were obediently sitting where he had told them to. Next he said, “You girls are now to stand up and follow me. I am going to lead you.” They walked.
Soon they came to a river that was running down to the earth. There was a raft there. They were instructed then to get aboard. “You girls get on this raft, but do not look down to the right side. You might get dizzy and fall off and die!”
The raft floated down the river, and suddenly it stopped. They didn’t know that it was the Creator who was waiting for them there. They were told, “Get in a row now, and follow me.”
They didn’t know what was going to happen to them. They followed as they had been told to do. Soon they came to a village where there were many people—white people. They couldn’t understand the language that these people were using. A white person came up and asked if they could understand. They said no. The people led them to a canoe and then took them across the river to the raft.
The sisters got back onto their raft and continued to float down the river. The Creator, who was standing where the raft had stopped, told them to get in line again and follow him. He led them to some more people. These people also spoke a language which the sisters could not understand. One came up to them and asked if they could understand. When they said no, again they were instructed to get in a line, and they were walked back to the raft.
They got aboard again, and the current floated them swiftly down the river. Suddenly their raft stopped, and they were told to line up and walk upland, away from the river. It was the Creator who talked to them. When they arrived upland there were many people. Again these people used a language that the sisters couldn’t understand. These people were Indians, but they all spoke a different language. Indians have different languages. The sisters were ferried back to their raft.
Now they got on board again and were carried back to earth. The Creator met them when the raft stopped. He again instructed them: “Line up and follow me. We shall walk toward the east.” They were taken over mountains, and they walked and walked a long way. They followed the Creator. He is also called the Changer, in our language. The Creator placed the sisters where they were to stand. They were faced to the south and to the north.
Now the Creator called to the eldest sister, “Come, you will follow me now.” They walked and walked. Suddenly she stopped. He turned to the eldest sister and instructed her to stand right on a certain spot. He put his hand on this eldest sister, and she immediately became a mountain, a white mountain. There was a little smoke coming out through the top.
As soon as she became a mountain, the Creator turned around and went back to get the next sister, the middle one. When he came to her he said, “You are to follow me now.” She followed him. The youngest sister stood there by herself. The middle sister followed the Creator. She stopped when he stopped her and saw this big mountain in front of her. She didn’t realize it was her sister! The Creator put his hand on her head, and very slowly she became a mountain also. She rose slowly until she became a tall white mountain with a little smoke also coming from her top.
When the Creator considered this, he said, “Oh, this will be a good legend for future generations to tell about!”
He returned for the youngest sister. She thought to herself as she waited, “What is going to happen to me now?”
The Creator came to her and said, “You are to come with me now!”
The youngest sister thought, “What Shall I do?”
She obediently followed, however, and stood where she was told to stand by the Changer. He placed his hand upon her, and she slowly became a mountain. Before she had completed her transformation she saw the two mountains before her. She didn’t know that her sisters had been changed into these mountains. The youngest sister didn’t become a mountain quickly. Very, very slowly she turned into a tall white mountain that had a little smoke coming from the top.
The Creator observed his work, and he declared: “You folks shall just be legends for people in coming generations forever. You shall be visible to everyone. You shall be known as the Sister Mountains for future generations. You shall be mountains forever! Three sisters forever and ever.”
When storytellers discuss these mountains, some identify them as Baker, Rainier, and Hood; some say they are twin sisters by Mt. Baker; and others say they don’t know where they are.