Welcome to Glacier Country

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04/02/08
Good evening friends. ActiveSteve reporting from glacier country here. Yup, I’ve made it about halfway down the west coast already, and find myself at Fox Glacier. Although the day was short on paper, it was nothing short of a barn burner in reality with the nutty hills I had to tackle towards the end of the day, after a couple hours hiking around the Franz Josef Glacier. The weather pretty much didn’t co-operate for most of the day either, with clouds yet again obscuring any chance I might have at some spectacular Southern Alps views. Regardless, it was still a fun day, allowing me to get a later start than usual and stopping at the Franz Josef glacier for a while. I’ve put together a map, which includes the hike at Franz Josef, which you can check out. Hopefully this time, all the maps are up. Last time I had Internet, I couldn’t get any maps up.

Early in the morning, I woke up in my little caravan to the continuous sound of rain on the roof. It didn’t really get me too excited about getting up, loading the trailer, and cycling off in the watery roads. Consequently, I didn’t finally get on the road until around 9:30am, which was just fine by me. After all, there was only 32km to the Franz Josef glacier, and after that, about 25km to Fox Glacier. I was planning on getting to Franz by lunch, and then hitting the road again by 3pm for Fox. The road to get to Franz Josef was fairly uneventful, with the grey skies not giving me much inspiration. The main climbs would come after Franz Josef, so it was only little climbs to that point.

After getting to Franz Josef village, I asked what was the best way to kill a few hours, and was told to just hike up to the terminal of the glacier, and maybe do some other little trails around there. Sounds good to me. Only thing was that to get to the trail head meant biking up 4km on a dirt road. D’oh! It wasn’t super-bad or anything, but with the non-stop campervans going by, it got a little bit frustrating. Luckily, the hikes made up for it. When I finally got closer to the glacier, I was treated to a short window of better weather, and as you can see, there were even blue skies overhead for a bit. However, it was literally just a hole of blue sky. As I was walking away, the clouds had already plugged up my hole. Too bad. A girl at the hostel here showed me pictures from later today, and it was really impressive with snowy peaks around it. Too bad I didn’t see that, but I’m hoping that tomorrow will be a gorgeous day on the ice. Forecast definitely looks good, so my fingers are crossed that I’ll finally get those spectacular views I paid for!

Depending on the weather, I’ll decide whether or not to stay an extra day here. Apparently, there is a lake nearby that provides really impressive reflections of Mount Cook and Mount Tasman. Known around here as mirror lake, it was a place that many people have told me that I shouldn’t miss. One way or another, I will get over to it. However, the main event for tomorrow is Ice Climbing on Fox Glacier. Yup, I paid the big bucks for one of the top glacier experiences, short of taking a helicopter ride up that is. No doubt my post tomorrow will be a little more interesting as a result. Because of this, I think I’ll bid you all good night, so that I can rest up for the big day. I’ll be out there all day, and still don’t feel 100%, so I need to get some more beauty sleep 🙂 So until tomorrow, take care folks!

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