An Incredible Galcial Experience

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November 15th 2006
Published: November 16th 2006
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We hiked Franz Josef glacier yesterday. It was amazing. The heavy rainfall from the day before meant that the track to the actual glacier was washed away so we had a longer than usual and far tougher than usual hike through teh rain forest to content with before we even arrived at the foothill of the galcial mountain.

Equiped with funky ice grip shoes and plenty of layers we set about tackling the glacier and wow was it col! From the bottom of the valley it doesn't look THAT impressive but once you get up a bit of the way and see the huge iciles and massive crascks between them and just how far back and high up they go...its just breathtaking! Surrounded by ice, blue in parts, pure enough to drink (which we did!), we hiked the whole day up there. It was very tough going and my thighs ACHE today but God it was so worth it, its just such a surreal experience and its something you don't get the chance to do very often. Franz Josef (and its Kiwi cousin Fox) are the most spectacular glacier accessible to man and they're two of only three glaciers that run into a rain forest. Its just amazing (I think I need to invest in a thesaurous and prob a dictionary at that!) to see the mounds of ice next to the green moutains either side of the valley.

We didn't go to the very top coz its too dangerous as the ice is constantly moving and less stable the higher up you go but we went pretty high all the same. Every so often you would hear a really loud bang, like a clap of thunder, and it was a chucnk of ice breaking off and melting. The river at the bottom of the glacier (where the track to it normally runs) was overfllooded and it was just crazy coz every so often you'd see a big boudler of ice just floating by. It was a wierd muddy colour too from all the ice and compressed air (Emer Cahill can explain in that in far more exact terms) but the river had nothing on the glacier. Man it was cool (and surprisingly enough not literally, think I got a bit of colour up there actually).

We're just leaving Franz Josef now to continue on down towards Queenstown (hopefully via Haas although I haven't been hearing great reports about it). Will prob stay in a campsire just outside the city (where its cheaper!) tonight and I'm hoping to convince the others to splurge and go dancing on Fri/Sat seeing as we'll be in a big town and seeing as I can't remember the last time I heard some cheesy dancy music (Fran...who by the way was named Francis Josef after the same emporer that the glacier was named after-nope it didn't get him a free in control of our radio when we're driving!). Anywho must go, sorrry if that was long and convoluted and as usual appologies for spelling mistakes...takes too long to read over it, especially when you're being charged by the minuet. Check in again soon.

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