Friday, August 31, 2012

Fox Glacier

Today we spent the entire day hiking Fox Glacier. Our all-day guided walk was well worth every penny. I feel like we had ample time on the glacier.

We started out hiking through rain forest to the glacier. Upon arrival we made sure we had all our gear on correctly. The coolest part of this expedition is that they will lend you almost everything you need. We were given boots (which were ironically my backpacking boots that I left home), crampons, wool socks, waterproof coats, mittens and even hats. We only borrowed some of their gear, but it was nice to know that if we forgot anything, they had us covered.

Then we spent the rest of the day on the ice, including lunch. Our group of 11 were all American. These next two weeks are spring break for the local universities. Besides Jay and I, everyone else in our group is currently studying abroad. I know I have mentioned this a million times, but I love hearing traveller's stories and learning about all our options when traveling. Most of our group is on a similar itinerary, so it was fun to hear what they have in store. One of the groups is doing a pub crawl tomorrow night and we're debating about following suit.

Like many of the guided adventures we have been on, the guides try to give us the most bang for our buck. On this track we went through ice tunnels and crevasses. Above is Jay coming out of the tunnel and below is me in one of the nice (big) tunnels.

These tunnels are formed by water melting off the glacier and flowing down hill. It's truly amazing what nature can do.

While I still think the caves were the most daring things we've done so far, this trek was pretty cool. And unlike the caves, my heart wasn't thumping the entire time. It was nice to see the sky, and our guide gave us plenty of opportunities to absorb the surroundings and get pictures.

The glacier moves all the time, causing Fox Glacier Guides to groom their paths daily. Even while we were hiking, our guide was fixing the path and making sure it was safe to trek on.

Before we knew it, we were as far as we could go safely. The ice becomes unstable further up and even the guides won't go up there right now. It was pretty amazing!

And of course I had to pose with our guides' axe. You know I look pretty cool ;)

While it felt like we spent the entire day hiking up the glacier, we were down in what felt like minutes. We've been traveling for exactly two weeks now and the time has just flown by. I can't believe we have less than a week left here. New Zealand is truly a magical place but definitely not for the light hearted!