Tuesday, December 2, 2003

Franz Josef Glacier (1 of 2)

So, 'round about 4:15 p.m. (8 hours after leaving Queenstown), we come tooling into the town of Franz Josef, home of the Franz Josef glacier.

This is where I'm gonna do that glacier walk tomorrow.  The walk that my travel agent kinda forgot to book (and then confirmed with the wrong time).  Anyway, in my booklet o' vouchers, she gave me a voucher for a "Glacier Eco Tour" today at 4:45.  Apparently, this was booked when she thought I wasn't doing the glacier walk -- but hey, bought and paid for, right?

So, the shuttle picks me up.  Here is what Glacier Eco Tours does:  They drive you to the parking lot where the glacier walks start.  Then they pick you up again in 2 hours.

The Eco Tour guy suggested to my busload of people (me and a group of 5 adults who all seemed related to each other) that we do the walk (round trip an hour forty) down the trail to where you can see the face of the glacier.  Now, this is the exact same trail I'm going to walk down tomorrow, 'cepting I'm going to keep going and walk on the glacier.  It's the trail I wasn't entirely certain I'd be able to keep up with my group on tomorrow.  I can see absolutely NO reason to do this walk twice.

I noticed a half-hour (round trip) walk to a viewing platform.  THAT's a plan.  Walk out, look at glacier, snap a few pics, leave.  Eco Tour guy was asking if we wanted him to come back for us earlier, and the other family (bless them) thought one hour would be PLENTY of time.  So, they went down to the viewing platform. 

THEN, I saw a sign for a 20 minute (round trip) uphill walk up "Sentinel rock" -- "steadily climbs uphill for spectacular views of the glacier."  Sounds good to me.  My heart could use the workout, and I'm all for spectacular glacier views.

So, I Gimlied my way up the hill, got to the views, breathed heavily for about twenty minutes while admiring the glacier (which wasn't all that spectacular, actually -- the top of it was in the clouds, and the bottom had receded quite a bit from the photographs -- so I couldn't really see much of it), trudged back down, and met the family while we waited twenty minutes for the bus.

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