Friday 18th May 2007
Journal brought to you by Sophie, who is very cold.
This morning we had to get up fairly early as we were going on a full day hike on the Franz Josef glacier. We spent the first two hours of the day getting kitted up for the walk. I was wearing about 50 billion layers as I didn't want to freeze. We were given fetching mittens, huge boots that we had to attach ice spikes to as soon as we got on the glacier, some big woollen socks, a warm fleecy waterproof coat and waterproof trousers. We hopped on the bus and were driven to the start of the National Park. We had to trek for about an hour before reaching the base and then whacked on our ice spikes in preparation for some serious climbing. Matt, you would have absolutely loved it and you would have been in your absolute element. It was really good fun. By the end my feet could no longer be felt and my bum was a little chilly from where I had stupidly sat down at lunchtime on the snow but the spectacular scenery and the fun we had more than made up for that. Anyway in my humble opinion Norway was a lot colder. That place made me come crying off the mountain...
During the five hours we were there we climbed a cliff and went up into an ice cave, which was so cool. The ice at the top of the glacier for some reason has a blueish tinge to it so when we were in the cave there was an eerie blue glow all around us. It was so bizarre. We also had to squeeze along some tiny crevices, which was so cool. Literally. Tami wasn't wearing her water proof trousers and got absolutely soaked. Some crazy people, including Jamie, from the other group went swimming in the lake up there! It must be noted that I did not fall over once. YEY! This is surprising considering we were walking up and down sheer cliff faces and clinging on to ropes so that we didn't drop off. Mother I think that I want to have a career in extreme sports. I absolutely adore them and want to be some sort of leader in mountain trekking. Maybe I will do it when I leave uni and take people hiking through the andes or some other place in South America. Then I can make use of my SPanish too.
The glacier moves up to 2m every single day! This can be either forward or backwards. If it advances this is because there has been a heavy snow fall on top of the glacier, if it retracts this is because the snow on the bottom of the glacier is melting faster than the snow on top. The glacier is generally advancing at the moment although since the last ice age it has retreated quite a way due to global warming and other such causes. It was named after Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria by the German explorer, Julius von Haast in 1865. The glacier is changing all the time and the guides are constantly having to carve new paths. We were given our own pick axes so we could make our own. It was such good fun. We felt like little dwarves. Just before the end I was extremely desperate for the toilet so my guide said if I went down in this little crater no one would be able to see me. So there I am squatting down releasing fluid to my heart's content when one of the other groups walked over the ridge overlooking the crater and caught me right in the act. Not embarrassing at all.
When we got back to the hostel, we warmed up and then went out for the most random night ever. We ended up at a couple of bars and I can't explain it but it was really really good fun.
I really like Franz Josef. The town reminds me of a ski resort that I used to go to with the school. Incase anyone cared.
I hope everyone is ok and is a bit warmer than we are here in New Zealand! It is still lovely to hear from you on the message board. Mummy Nix, thank you so much for your email. It was great to hear what you had been up too. I hope also Rob is not straining himself too much. Tell him he needs to take it easy!
Insert from Tami: If you want to see any pictures from the hike, click on http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=3702&l=6ddc2&id=503796050 !!