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Published: February 26th 2015
It's Friday morning here, the sun is shining, the sky is crystal clear, and the mountains are calling my name. We have some beautiful weather for the hikes I have planned for today.
We arrived in Fox Glacier yesterday afternoon. There are two glaciers here, Fox and Franz Josef . Franz Josef is about 30 minutes north of where we are staying in Fox Glacier Township. We drove through that village yesterday, stopped for lunch, and popped in at the visitor's center. Franz Josef is more touristy than Fox, and I try to avoid the overly touristy spots at all costs. Fox is a quiet village, and out the kitchen window of our cabin I watch two horses graze and see the mountains a very short distance away. I would love to always have this view from my kitchen window. Across the street there are sheep and cattle grazing. This place is good for my heart. I'm in love!
We drove in and out of everything from bright sunshine to rain yesterday, and by the time we got here, the clouds were ominous and filling into the mountain valleys. After much debate about what to do when as far
as hiking goes, we decided to do the Fox Glacier Valley Walk last night, a short 2.6k walk to the terminal face of the glacier. We figured if we couldn't see anything, we could always try again today. We got there after 6pm, the perfect time to go, after the tour buses left for the day, and there were only a handful of people around. Perfect. The valley was beautiful, you could easily trace the path of the retreat of the glacier, seeing the sheer cliff walls and the hillside rock falls. It was cloudy and misty in the valley, the perfect mix of eerie and beautiful. Waterfalls tumbled down the hillsides, some little trickles, some rushing rivers, and fed into the Fox River that was making it's way down the valley toward the Tasman Sea. The last 400 meters of the hike was straight up and there were "no stopping" signs the entire way. Guess they don't want people stopping and congregating and getting hit by potentially falling rocks. When we got to the top of the hill it was raining! Amazing how a few feet can make such a difference. The glacier was so neat to see, and
it's amazing to think that because it is constantly moving and changing, that it will never look the same again. By the time we left the top, we were the only two around. I love having places like that all to myself. It was a great experience.
We made our way out of the valley and back to the car. On the way out I happened to catch a glimpse of a swing bridge across the river I had read about earlier in the day. We pulled out at a little parking area, found the trailhead, and went out to explore it. I read once that you should do something every day that scares you. Not irresponsible things, just things that stretch you in a new direction. I knew from reading about the bridge that it is well maintained, despite being built in 1929. The sign said that five people can be on this bridge at the same time (that's not a lot on a 70 meter long bridge, but hey, why not), and since there were only two of us around, we decided to do it. Gulp. It was so scary!!! But I loved every minute of it. The power of the rushing river below us was so amazing! What's even better is that it dropped us off on the other side into a native rain forest. A rain forest just after the rain is breathtaking. It was so lush and beautiful. We walked down the trail there in silence, watching the sun fade away through the canopy and hearing the nocturnal birds calling. It was such a peaceful end to the day.
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