May 29, 2013
Guess what! Today I hiked a glacier. Fox Glacier, to be specific. I also did a sunrise hike at Lake Matheson, which is a reflective lake. Let me start from the beginning of the day because our day was very jam-packed!
We woke up at 6:30am and piled on the layers to get on the bus. It was so cold. Winter has definitely arrived here in New Zealand. It’s even colder where we are now because of the altitude. I had 6 layers on the top and 2 on the bottom. We drove to Lake Matheson, and hiked in the dark to an overlook area. Everyone was cold, tired and quiet, but it was all worth it because we were able to see the sun start to peak over the glaciers and reflecting on this quiet lake. We continued to hike around the track of this lake and took pictures. Breakfast was at 9am and then we had to study for our plant and animals species quiz we had at 10:30am.
After the quiz, we headed out to the Fox Glacier Guides tour company that was taking us up on the glacier. We heard a little bit about their history and then took a break for lunch in the tiny town. Afterwards, we changed our boots for theirs and drove up to the carpark area. We broke up into three smaller groups and went on our way. We had about 45 minutes of walking on the rocky trail before we even got to the ice. Our guide was explaining a lot about how the glacier has been getting smaller and smaller over time, and showed us portions of where the forest was smaller or stopped where the ice had previously been. It’s pretty interesting how nature takes over so quickly to fill the space. He showed us an old trail they used to take visitors up on, but since had stopped using (due to changes in the glacier size) that was practically non-existent anymore. The area tells such a story about changes in the environment and I thought it was pretty awesome that they could tell so much just with a few clues.
When we finally go up to the ice, we strapped on our cramp-ons to our boots. Cramp-ons are little ice picks that strap onto the insole of the shoes. They made a world of difference hiking up that ice. When we were going down the stairs, I was very nervous that I was going to fall. I was thinking “what have I gotten myself into?!” and concentrating really hard on not toppling down a mountain. Once we got past that part though, I was all set and really into it. We hiked up, down, and around the middle part of the glacier. I got some cool pictures! It was unreal. I had been on Mt. Rainer before, but it wasn’t the same experience. We walked into a little cave and learned more about why the ice is the way it is.
Oh, my clumsy nature strikes again today! I tripped and my SLR camera came flying out of my hands and bounced down the rocky part on our way down (multiple times)… and that was the second time I had dropped it that day. Funny story, I am a Floridian fascinated by all things winter. So, when I saw the puddle in our parking lot had frozen, my first instinct was to step onto it to see if it was actually frozen. This resulted in me falling face first onto the ground. I have scrapes on my hands and knee to prove it. Well, my camera came with me… It’s all good because it still works after all of that. (Dad: Good thing I didn’t bring that extra big, heavy lens! Haha). Moral of the story, wear the stupid neck strap when climbing rocks and don’t randomly step on ice.
I’m attempting to get my wifi to work right now so I can add pictures to this post and my past posts that are lacking in the photo department, but it is slower than a glacier… (Haha, get it?). Anyways, this is our last night in Fox Glacier. Our next stop: Queenstown, the adventure capital of the world! We are spending a few nights there and it’s going to be a fun stop! On our seven hour drive tomorrow, we’ll be stopping at a farm to pet sheep, visiting Haast, and doing an optional mini-hike.