4.02.2013

Alpine Glacier Hike, New Zealand


I once had a very influential person in my life, tell me that I should live my life in such a way that I have the most incredible stories to tell my children. I was 20 years old at that time, and it completely changed my view of living life. Of course, I did not walk away from that piece of advice thinking of how I could live my life so that I would have the best stories, but instead embraced the bigger picture which was: what we do with our lives now, will matter in the future- even if it's experiences and lessons that we eventually pass on. I traveled to Zambia with the same person who gave me this advice later that same year. This was my first trip out of the country and my first voyage to Africa. I never thought I'd begin to tell these stories only 10 years later.

That was pretty deep lead into what I actually want to post about today which is our Alpine Glacier Hike we went on the Franz Josef Glacier in New Zealand! However, this is one story I will tell my children. This hike, the view, the melting glacier- it was epic and slightly alarming since it's melting so fast. There was some incredibly interesting discussions had during the hike among the group on why the glacier we were standing on was melting. The guide felt it was a natural end to the ice age as we knew it, and natural progression of changes in the earth's climate. However, many of the people on the hike, who were from all over the world, felt differently. Some felt it was global warming, and no doubt a man-made occurrence from overconsumption of fossil fuels. No matter the reason, this is one experience that my children may never have the opportunity to experience, because it may not be there in the future. It was like viewing a rare species of animal that was on the brink of extinction. It was HUGE and cold and beautiful and bright. I felt so small on top of that mountain. The glacier has become too dangerous for people to hike into by foot from the base of the mountain, because the glacier is moving and melting. I could actually hear it melting, and at some points during the hike, I could hear water rushing like a small river running. The guide was very strict on what path we took, where we stood, and where we walked because there were areas of thin ice that could cave at any moment. We hiked through glacier blue ice caves, over what seemed like mountains of ice, and in-between huge ice caverns. It was without a doubt one of the most incredible things I have ever done. We geared up up in our snowsuits, wool socks, boots, and crampons (metal cleats) and followed our British guide, Milo, as he used a pick ax to form stairs of ice as we wandered up into the Franz Josef Glacier. This was truly the hike of my life (and my first helicopter ride).