Hiking Franz Josef
We arrived in Christchurch, NZ, mid-Sunday morning. We immediately set off driving the left side roads for Arthur's Pass
where we hiked to waterfalls. The next day we drove down to Fox Glacier where we made another hike up into the
mountains, fording streams, for a spectacular view of Fox Glacier. For Tuesday, our third day, we signed up to hike up
Franz Josef Glacier, the glacier in the picture below. Our hike would take us up to the middle of that long black vertical
spot in the photo below. This would be an elevation gain of 1,000 feet, a walk of two miles to the glacier, and another
two miles up the glacier. As Jackie noted, the elevation gain was at least threefold as we did more up and down climbing
than on any previous hike.
Most of our ventures find us in the company of a rather seasoned group of old farts, but not this time. When we showed
up to form four groups of ten, we were startled to find that most of the hikers were seasoned trekkers under the age of
25! The hike began at 8:15 putting on boots and picking up crampons and ended at 5:30 that evening.
Much of the hike was up and down near vertical slopes. The picture above is the beginning of the climb. These are not
the worst spots as the guide would not let us get our cameras out for these spots. I did cheat in a few spots risking my
life so you could share our experiences.
Note Jackie at top
in photo at left.
Below, Jackie is
standing on the
sides to avoid
wading through ice
water. Our guide is
at the bottom of
the photo on the
Sometimes we walked across ladders (below left), and other times we hiked the tops of ridges of ice (below right) with
sheer drops on both sides going 50 to 100 feet or more. A glacier is a river of ice, and this river is moving a meter a day.
At the top we sat down for lunch (below left) and looked down to where we started (below right).
During our climb and lunch
we gazed at waterfalls (left).
My body has never been so exhausted after a hike. We started at 8:15 and ended at 5:45 with only a few minutes for
snack and lunch. After we got down my legs ached so much I could hardly walk. But the experience was beyond words. It
was so fascinating going through the glacier. At times the gap was so narrow that my body and day pack slid against the
walls on both sides.
As we started down, a sweet young thing in her early twenties exclaimed to me, "I am so glad my parents and
grandparents can not see me now. They would be so upset." To which I replied, "I understand. My daughter feels the
same way about me."