Friday, July 29, 2011

Walking on Ice

Wednesday, May 11 (still)
Fox Glacier
South Island

We arrived into the township of Fox Glacier with thirty minutes to spare before our glacier hike began. Once things got rolling, everyone was suited up against the elements, with thick, red socks (keep an eye out for these in the pictures), hiking boots, water-proof pants and jackets, should the need arise, and boot cleats to strap on our feet once we reached the ice. We picked up our walking sticks with metal picks at the end just before we stepped onto the glacier. A small bus took us the base of Fox Glacier, where we gathered around to listen to our guide, Andrew, give us some background information on this amazing glacier before we met her for ourselves. For instance, Fox is one of the few glaciers that has grown in size over recent years, although she shrunk back from the coast significantly before that. Perhaps the fact that she ends in lush rainforest plays a hand in her strange behavior.

From the start of the trail we could see part of the face of the glacier.  Mind the rocks - my second fall of the trip happened on the way up the side of the ice. Luckily it wasn't too bad of a twist and I laughed it off and continued on, though not without some ankle pain for the next couple of days.

Look - ice!

Andrew was a superb guide, ever-patient with our group as we ambled at varying speeds along behind, and stopping to educate us on the different parts of the glacier, giving us all the STATS of Fox we could handle. He had his trusty pick ax to freshen up steps in the ice, steps these guys carve daily so it's easier to walk the glacier. Always a few steps ahead, he checked out the ever-changing formations created in the ice by the elements, giving us the thumbs-up when an area was secure enough for us to venture closer for a better look.

This narrow waterfall wasn't there the day before. Rain water and melting ice is always creating new holes in the ice, which makes for some cool shots when you can actually climb down into it.

We spent about 2 hours on the ice, and then it was time to head back the way we came, over the ice, down the center of an ice ravine, and onto the rocky terrain left behind in the glacier field where Fox once stretched.

After a day full of driving and hiking, we were ready for some much needed Kiwi grub, and opted for the restaurant (out of 3 in town) that had a venison burger on the menu - mmm! I may be addicted.

No comments:

Post a Comment