4/23/11 Franz Josef
I was awakened early this morning by the departure of Kristen and Tifah. They decided to jump ahead a bit since they have assignments to work on. So we are temporarily down to five people. The rest of us got up about 8:15 or so. Nora, Tony, and Kaleb were going on a full day glacier hike. I was keeping an eye on the weather to decide if I really wanted to go on the 5 hour hike I had planned for the day. You see, it was pouring rain outside when we woke up. I didn’t really feel like 5 hours of walking in the rain. I did, however, really want to see the Franz Josef glacier.
The rain had fizzled out by around 10 am so I decided to go for it. By the time I left, about 10:45, it was raining pretty steadily again. I quickly stopped at a shop and bought a hat, my best decision of the day. I then forged on in my journey. My first goal was to make it out of town, which I did without a hitch. I had to cross a bridge that went over a rushing river flowing down from the glacier. There were ice chunks being tossed about that were bigger than me.
After getting my fill of awe-inspiring river currents, I crossed the one lane bridge and proceeded along the road for almost an hour until I reached the first hiking trail. I used this trail to connect to my trail, where I was greeted by a sign.
If you cannot read this sign, it says “The track section at the end of Roberts Point Track is closed to the public until early May. This is to allow the construction work to be completed for a new viewing platform. The track is closed at the Rope Creek Suspension Bridge and it is not possible to see the glacier from there.” I didn’t know what to do with myself. I had just trekked an hour through the rain to reach this point, only to find out my trail was basically a bust.
I quickly (relatively) decided to keep going on my original path anyways. I really wanted to go on some suspended bridges. I walked along this path for another 15-20 minutes when I reached another intersecting trail. This one led to Peter’s Pool, which my map told me was a “fantastic reflective view up the glacier valley” and the trail sign told me was only 20 minutes away. I decided to detour and attempt to see the glacier before coming back and crossing the bridge I could just see through the bush.
About 15 minutes later this is what I saw.
Not too reflective, but it was pretty crappy weather. After careful consideration, aka a split second decision, I decided to continue on my current path to hit up yet another different trail. This one leading to a lookout point to view the glacier. Also only a 20 minute roundtrip. After reaching the apex of this trail, this was my view…
The views just kept getting better, and I just kept getting pulled in. My next change in plans came in the form of taking the Glacier Valley Walk, a 90 min return trip out to the glacier itself. No physical touching of the glacier (too dangerous), but I got as close as was safe without a guide and a tour group.
Up to this point in the day it had very sporadically rained, drizzled, and misted. As soon as I reached the glacier it started to rain again. Of course. So I snapped a few pics and booked it back to the carpark. I’d say it took me 45 minutes to reach the glacier, minimum. It probably took me 25 to get back. I was cruising.
As I practically jogged through the rain I planned out my route to come. As soon as I hit the carpark and used the toilet real quick I was off… again. I backtracked past Peter’s Pool where I had to stop again. This time there was a gorgeous reflection. As gorgeous as you can get with a cloud strewn sky anyways.
I continued on my mental path until I reached my original trail. I really just wanted to go on the bridge, especially after seeing one from later up the trail from the glacier valley.
So I played around on the bridge for a bit before continuing the trail. I just wanted to see some of what I was originally going to do. (It was about 3pm and I wasn’t about to walk the whole thing). About 5 minutes into the trail there was another river. This one had no bridge. And that ended that.
I proceeded to turn around, walk back over the bridge and back along the path from the morning until I reached the road. It was another hour walk into town. My first priority was a quick warm up shower. My second was to toss all my wet things into a dryer. Two dollars and twenty minutes later and both myself and my possessions were warm and dry.
Usually after a day like that I would just quit on doing more things, but not today. Oh no. My next trip was one over to the West Coast Wildlife Centre. I’m as keen as anyone to see animals, maybe even a little more. But I totally had to go here. They have kiwis! The birds. It was a small building and there were only two kiwis there at the time, but it was totally worth it.
Overall my day was thoroughly exhausting and entirely too wet, but also extremely satisfying.