There are quite a few phrases I would rather not hear come out of my guides mouth with hiking up a glacier. “Look, a polar bear!” “I think we’re in for a storm.” “Is that a woman frozen in the ice?” However, the one I heard was just as bad, if not worse, because I actually heard it. Said with confused look “Right, so I’ve just taken us the wrong way again. Sorry. It’s just that it all looks the same. “ Really? REALLY?!?!?! Mind you, today is not the day they shot the promo video we watched. It is not sunny, I am not wearing shorts, and no, I am not smiling. It is 4 hours in on a 6 hour hike and I am soaked to my bum, as the Kiwi’s call it hungry, cold, exhausted and quite miserable. It rained literally the entire time (and I don’t mean a light drizzle, I mean RAIN). I am trying, and have been for the last few hours to remember that I am on a glacier in a beautiful valley in southern New Zealand and this is an adventure. Trying being the key word in that sentence. No one said I actually succeeded. I would really love to tell you that I was able to overcome my physical distress and enjoy the experience. I would be happy to say that I transcended above the exhaustion and misery that I was feeling and was able to really appreciate climbing on that giant hunk of ice. I wish I could tell you that the majestic views I saw that day of the beautiful blue glacier ice were worth the hours of pain and torture I went through to see it. Unfortunately, all of those things would be a complete lie. I can honestly say that if I had the choice to go back and do it all again, I would run screaming. Like my mother, being cold, wet, hungry and tired do not bode for a happy camper, or glacier hiker in my case. Well, at least you must have gotten some beautiful pictures, you might ask. Not a one. Didn’t even take the camera out of the plastic bag it was so lovingly wrapped in. So I would like to give a big middle finger to Franz Josef and its stupid rain.
Well after 6 hours of frozen misery I did what any sensible person would do. I headed to the bar. After a hot shower of course! I would tell you all the details of the evening, including being suckered into participating in a stick ball race with my bus driver (stick between legs, ball under chin, run around pool table and then attempt to transfer both to partner-without using any hands) but to be honest some of them are a bit fuzzy. I do remember Kat, Python and I driving to another bar with a friend of his. That one was dead so we got the bright idea to run back to ours, in the rain, barefoot. Then we shut down our bar and thought we would run to the car park to get another bottle of wine out of the bus. In the rain. Barefoot. Then we ran back from the car park with the bottle of wine. In the rain. Barefoot. I have had smarter moments in life.
Regardless, I was up on time the next morning, surprisingly not hung over, and ready for our days drive to exciting Makarora. Unfortunately, my camera was not. Sadly, my 3 month old, relatively expensive camera, with which I am slightly obsessed, was dead. Not dying, flat out dead. As if this wasn’t traumatizing enough, we drove through and stopped at some of the most beautiful places I think I have ever seen that day. All the more reason to return to them!
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