Monday, February 25, 2013

From the Commodore - Day 11

Slept poorly as it was quite noisy in our room and I’d already slept 3 hours in the afternoon.  The kitchen dining area was directly below our room and the music didn’t get turned off until the wee hours of the morning.  I put in ear plugs at 1:30 a.m. and got some sleep. 

Up by 7 and itchy as all get out because of all the sand fly bites.  Got a shower and breakfast then walked to the glacier tour office to find out what time their tours were running and if they were running as there was quite a fog in the valley.  Booked to go on the afternoon flight at 2:50 and then we drove to the parking lot which led to the trail up to the foot of the Fox Glacier.  Hiked up to the lookout point which was about 200 m from the glacier’s toe.  Much the same as the Columbia ice fields in the Rockies.  Dad was interested in the slope failures, the glacier sheer, etc.  Some poor lady lost her glasses and they were sitting on a post at the side of the trail.  What a nuisance! 

Back to our room by 11:30 and I had a short nap in preparation for my glacier tour.  Up by 12:30, ate lunch, got my boots on, packed extra clothes and got out my camera and goretex jacket.  Got to the booking office by 2:45 as per instructions only to find they hadn’t checked with the pilot yet to see if they could fly us up to the glacier.  The morning flight had been cancelled due to the cloud cover so it was good we booked the afternoon flight.  Dad rushed back to the hostel to see if he could find my sunglasses (they had fallen out of my purse in the back of the car and we hadn’t noticed as I hadn’t needed them) and brought them back in time to see me off. 

The tour didn’t leave til 3:15.  They bussed us out to the chopper pad and there gave us leather boots with heavy socks to wear on the glacier and instructions on flying in a helicopter.  I was on the first chopper out and landed at 3:45 but then had to wait for the other 3 chopper loads of people on our tour to get ferried up to the glacier.  The ride up was a bit nauseating as the chopper pilot decided to give us a thrill and as he circled the landing site, he turned the chopper sideways.  Like an amusement park ride but they always made me sick and nothing to grab onto and I was in the outside seat right against the door! 

However we landed safely and tried not to get hit by flying ice crystals as the next 3 choppers came in.  Then we met our guides.  I got Passang from Nepal with an accent and 13 people in our group including a bratty little Chinese boy with his parents and grandparents who was spoiled completely rotten.  They all had difficulty with English and following instructions which slowed us down a lot.  We got to put on crampons on our boots and grabbed a ski pole and set off to a tunnel through the ice which we crawled through.  I almost didn’t go but remembered our trip last summer Sam and so I crawled through, got ice abrasions on my palms and my pants soaking wet. 

From there we climbed up and across to see Victoria Falls which flow down from Victoria Glacier which used to flow into Fox Glacier but don’t anymore due to the shrinkage of both.  The falls flow into a river that flows under the glacier.  Then we went to a crack in the glacier and our guide took a picture of each of us.  My battery died and I’m very thankful, Sam that you gave me one of your spare batteries when you ordered some a couple of years ago and it still had juice in it after sitting idle for 2 years in my camera case.  Saved the day!  Got lots more photos on the glacier and off. 

Disappointed in that my 4 hour tour turned into 1 ½ on the glacier with a lot of that time spent stopping, posing and taking pictures.  As dad pointed out, that’s why he avoids those touristy tours.  But I did get to climb on a real glacier which is what I’ve wanted to do for a long time. 

Back to town dad met me at the office and walked me back to our hostel.  We went to the grocery to find some oats for dad and I got an ice cream bar and he got a beer and we wound down nicely.  Had to wait to get into the kitchen at the hostel as it was a complete zoo.  Got dinner about 8.  Works well for me as I find I don’t eat before bedtime as I’m not hungry.  After dinner we sat and read a bit before bed at 10.  Another noisy night.  We filled out a survey complaining about the noise, poorly stocked kitchen (broken appliances, missing tools, etc.) and lack of bug screens on the windows.  Didn’t rate the place very highly.  (Dad gave it a 4 out of 10).