Saturday morning we hiked up the Franz Josef Glacier. Annndddd my first ever ride in a helicopter!!! We got situated with our gear and everyone was shuffled over to the helipad to board our “Squirrel” and be taken to about mid-way up the glacier. We had a group of around 10 people led by our glacier guide, TJ. Along the hike, Danielle, Casey and I asked TJ more questions than I think he was used to being asked (I’m curious…and I was interested in the facts incase there are ever any glacier related questions on Jeopardy) but it was interesting learning about the glacier history…otherwise, it would’ve been just a scenic hike.
Franz Josef Glacier descends into the rainforest of Westland’s National Park, from a height of 2700m above sea level to only 240m in 11 km, making it the worlds steepest and fastest flowing guided glacier. There are currently only 3 glaciers in the world that descend into a rainforest (Franz, Fox and one in Argentina). The glacier is constantly moving and it turns out it takes snow five years to turn into glacier ice.
We climbed through lots of crevasses, took pictures with blue ice and stayed at a careful distance behind TJ as he cut ‘stairs’ in the ice for us with his pickax.
(with our Glacier Guide, TJ)
(me, Danielle & Casey on the Squirrel; climbing thru blue ice)
The helicopter picked us back up and took us down to the mountain. It seems all of our questioning made us a friend because we got invited to a potluck dinner with the locals. We spent a relaxing afternoon at the hot springs and then got ready, picked up some beer and went over to our new ‘friends’ house. We had a tasty veggie lasagna dinner and played some card games. All in all it would’ve been a lovely little evening, except as we were getting ready to leave and head back to go to bed, one of our locals turned bat sh*t crazy (he apparently had one too many adult beverages and has the tolerance of a freshman in college) and we hauled it out of there! Interesting to say the least. Needless to say, the three of us were extremely grateful that we were leaving town the next day.
(hot springs; candlelight lasagna; card game fun)