Franz Joseph – the Great Glacier Hike

1 02 2012

Item’s I have learned today:

I was surrounded by a bunch of POM’s, I obviously didn’t learn much.. hahaha (I crack myself up)

bushman centre museum

bushman centre museum

First stop of the day was at Bushman’s Centre where Bex told us she would buy as all “jungle juice” if we were bright and cheery and said hello to the dude that told us about the centre (don’t you love how fabulous my memory is …  I can’t even remember his name?).

Anyway, we screamed a very cheerful hello to him (much to his surprise) and then he went on a 10 minute tangent on how we should watch this video about all the deer in the area that they hunt (and something else to, that I obviously can’t quite remember).  I feel really bad though, because the Poo Pub party was the night before so the last thing any of us wanted to do was watch a video about hunting deer/possums or some other sh*t.. we all just wanted greasy nasty breakfast food.  So although he made quite a compelling speech, 48 of us got off the bus and went over immediately to queue for breakfast, and I believe all of 2 paid to go watch the film/check out the museum.

mmmmmmmmmmmmmm BREAKFAST haha :)

mmmmmmmmmmmmmm BREAKFAST haha 🙂

I will say though that the Bushman’s centre had some HILARIOUS posters/signs up.  Their complaints section was the best, especially when they included their responses to said complaints.

The Bushman Centre Greeting Board

The Bushman Centre Greeting Board

and warnings...

and warnings...

I should also note that the breakfast menu also included a “possum pie” (again not kidding) it’s cost? donations only. hahahaha. I stuck to bacon and eggs.. at least I really HOPE it was bacon 🙂

After a meal and a chat we went on to Franz Joseph.  It’s in Franz Joseph that the Fox Glacier is located.  I had been planning to do the half-day hike, but then Luke informed me that even his grandmother had done the full-day and Bex went on (and on…. 🙂 ) about how the half-day does the exact same climb as the full-day, except that when you get up to the top bit you turn around and go straight back down. So grudgingly and the big wus that I am.. I signed up for the full-day hike.. convinced that I was going to go in the slowest group.  Bex also promised all it was going to be a bright and sunshiny day ….. LIES!

what a BEAUTIFUL day... sigh

what a BEAUTIFUL day... sigh

It was a quiet evening complete with a rock paper scizzors contest and our jungle juice reward in the Rainforest Retreat Pub before getting up nice and early the next day for the hike.

the start

the start

9:00am we make our way over to office. Once you check in they give you tags, one for your pants, one for jacket, one for socks, one for the beanie, one for the belt pack that holds your crampons, and one for your shoes.  Being the hiking expert that I am, I’m pretty sure I was the last one done and fitted out of the whole group. Bekah, Luke, Alice and I also all invested in getting tape to plaster our toes so we didn’t get blisters.  We pretty much covered our entire feet! We looked like we were trying to mummify ourselves, much to the laughter.. ahem.. I mean concern of the guides.  They basically just sat there and watched us.  We were determined not  to get blisters, even if we ended up coming across as complete and total idiots.

we definitely follow the rules

we definitely follow the rules

Next was a bus ride up and a 2k walk to the Glacier itself.  Once we hit the ice we put on the crampons.  They go over your boots so that you can easily walk 0n the ice.  I was determined to go in the slowest group, group 5.   Apparently there are wussier people out there than me (shocking).. so I got bumped up to the medium level group.   Now the walk itself was about 8 hours, you take breaks, and pictures and all that BUT I was still freaking nervous. I don’t even remember the last time I walked somewhere that took 8 hours  (I don’t think I ever have ever done matter of fact) let alone hiked some where.. IN THE ICE.

We ran into some folks who had done the walk the day before and complained about how sore their muscles were.. again.. not helping the nerves.

But it wasn’t consistently up hill.  And the fact that you are walking over ice.. blue ice to be exact (because of the reflection of the sun) helps ease things a bit.  Of course parts of it are challenging.  Our guide was in front of us with an ice pick, literally carving stairs into the ice for us to walk on.

hike up

hike up

Sometimes we literally had to jump over huge cracks in the ice (yeah.. ahem.. not scary at all.. definitely didn’t pause/gasp/freak out/fall on my ass), we also went through an ice cave.. and ate lots of chocolate to load up on energy/keep warm.

Ice Cave!

Ice Cave!

I think it’s about one of the only times I have ever been told that I had to eat chocolate.

What was nuts to me is that you would like for a bit and be so hot and sweaty, and then literally sit down and 30 seconds later you would be freezing! But it was incredibly beautiful, and completely and totally manageable/doable especially for someone as non-athletic and lazy as I am.  I was SOOOooo proud of myself at the end of the day.  On the walk back down I found that my muscles were sort of on auto-pilot.  You wouldn’t think it would be all that difficult to walk down hill.. but when you’re tired.. it is!

ANNNNNNNNND back down

ANNNNNNNNND back down

We all got back exhausted and made great use of the natural hot springs located right across the street from our hostel.

I hiked a glacier that day! I am writing this entry all of 3 months later and I’m still proud of myself.  Some people came back and said they thought it would be harder and blah blah blah.. but for me, it was just hard enough.. and considering my normal work out sessions (ahem meaning none at all) a major feat 🙂


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