Gjendine was born in the summer of 1871 in the stone cottage at Gjendebu, which remains standing there to this very day.
Inside the Stone Cabin, you will now find a small Gjendine Exhibit. Shortly after her birth, she was christened by a priest who happened to be passing by together with some other tourists. The priest suggested naming her Gjendine and she was christened as such on 24 July 1871 in Gjende. She met Jo Gjende in 1877 for the first and final time. This would also be the only time he asked for overnight accommodation at Gjendebu after having rowed on Lake Gjende at the age of 81!
During her childhood years, Gjendine spent each summer tending to her family’s livestock at Gjendebu. Sometimes she was left alone with the animals for up to 3 or 4 weeks at a time. Gjendine later worked as a dairymaid at various summer pastures, and spent several years as a servant girl on farms in the valley. It was during one summer while she was a dairymaid at Skogadalsbøen that she met Edvard Grieg, who was so fascinated by her song that he it down and used it in his musical pieces. The Dutch composer, Julius Røntgen, also came here in the summer of 1891. Røntgen later proposed to Gjendine, but she declined his offer because she could not imagine leaving Bøverdalen Valley and the mountains. Gjendine married Halvor Slålien who was from the same village where Gjendine had grown up, and they had two children.
In addition to the farm that she and her husband ran at Slålien, Gjendine worked at some of the mountain inns in Jotunheimen, including Krossbu. The Dutch Queen Vilhemina spent several years in Jotunheimen together with her daughter in the early 1900s. Gjendine was asked and agreed to serving as a sort of lady-in-waiting during some of the Queen’s excursions among the mountains.
Gjendine lived to be over 100 years old, and is said to have been mostly quick and in remarkably good health nearly until her final days.