Cold as Ice and Willing to Sacrifice Your Love

Trip Start Jun 10, 2009
Trip End Sep 07, 2009

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Where I stayed
Ivory Tower Backpackers Lodge

Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Tuesday, August 18, 2009

As there were only two backpackers in Fox Glacier Township, only one of which was BBH (meaning I get a discount), my choices were limited, so I moved into Ivory Tower Backpackers. The following day I set out to explore the glacier. I had decided to just do the trails around the area rather than pay the exorbitant fees charged for tours actually on the ice.

I immediately discovered one of the downsides to traveling on your own with no means of transportation: you have to walk everywhere. It was 5 km to the start of the trail that led to the glacier, so I had to walk that first before even starting the "real" hike. The trail led to the glacier's terminal point, but it was roped off with signs posted that you were not to go beyond certain points without a guide. I met Amelie coming back as I was going down the trail, and we stopped to talk for a minute. The trail offered some great views of the glacier, but not being satisfied I tried to get to the actual glacier, going into "forbidden" areas, but I kept running into tour groups and having to go back. I gave it up eventually and headed back to a trail that branched off part of the way down the road and led to a lookout on a mountain near the glacier.

Once more, I met Amelie as she was returning down the trail, although this time it was as we were crossing a wide series of rushing streams, so we couldn't hear the other person talk. The views were astounding at the lookout when I reached it: the mountain provided a view of the entire glacier winding up into the mountains as I was much higher than the glacier. It was a pretty amazing site. I met Amelie yet again as I returned down the trail (apparently I hike faster than she does), and we decided to meet up after both getting some lunch in town so we could drive in her campervan down to Lake Matheson, which was about 6 km away from town and offered some great reflective views of Mount Cook. I hiked the 5 km back to town, fixed up a peanut butter and Nutella sandwich (energy to burn!), met Amelie and we headed off.

The lake was decent. There was a trail around it that took an hour and a half that we took, and the views were very good, but after the glacier it seemed a bit tame. After the lake we drove another 20 km or so to Gillespies Beach to see a seal colony, but when we reached there we discovered on a sign that it was a three-and-a-half-hour return from the beach, something Amelie's guide book failed to mention, and as we were both tired of walking, we headed back to town. Amelie had been contemplating parking her van at the beach and spending the night there, in which case she would have driven me on to Greymouth the next day, but after checking it out she decided to drive on to Franz Josef Glacier that afternoon and sleep there, not wanting to stay two nights in one place. As I had already paid for another night at Ivory Tower we parted ways.

That evening, Sebastian and Dom showed up. They had booked a glacier tour for the next day, as I had planned on probably doing but had decided against. We hung out a bit that night, but the next day I continued on the coastal road while they stayed to experience the glacier.
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