|Franz Josef Glacier is one of few glaciers that sits in a temperate area close to the sea (or something like that). Anyway, we signed up for the full day hike with zero expectations. When they asked the 50 or so hikers to split up in groups of 10 by ability/fitness, I confidently stepped up to group one (hey, they said this group would see more and I didn’t want to miss out). Mike may or may not have thought I was crazy but up the glacier we went. This glacier sits between two mountains and feels exactly like a really wide river that has frozen in its path. Peaks and valleys formed by the “waves” from the sloping of the terrain make for great hiking. No fear of heights or small spaces welcome here.
Greg, our guide, took us up a few kilometers and then told us to wait because this glacier moves 1 meter everyday and he was going to explore a new section to see what we could hike next. Ten minutes later, soaking wet and bleeding from the knee, he told us to follow him up and over some very steep sections. The whole time he’s using an ice pick to carve out steps or move sections of ice out of the way. And mind you, there are enormous crevices up to 150 meters deep and big enough for a bus to fall through very close to these “trails” we’re taking. He stopped at a small cave not much bigger than an average size person and said “go through one at a time.” Are you kidding? We did it. Not gracefully. Then we walked through crevices and up to the top of the peaks of the “waves”. If this was the Weakest Link I would be out. At one point Greg told me to stop walking like an elephant (hey, I wanted to make sure my cramp-ons cramped to ice with each step).
The blue ice, stunning views, and adrenaline rush make it all worth it. This was probably my top day so far. Of course today my quads feel like jelly so I’m glad it was a driving day from the glacier to Wanaka.
Oh yeah and tonight the guy whose boat we tried to help push back in Abel Tasman (remember him?), his son’s band that he wants Mike to play drums in is playing in Wanaka. And we’re in Wanaka. We’re trying to decide if we should go…