Thoughtful Friday – Fox Glacier


It occurred to me this morning that some interesting things have happened to me in the past, you know “before the blog” and they might be of interest to write about, I really enjoyed writing this piece for the Bloggy swap I joined in with last month but you may not have seen it! So here it is…

Fox Glacier

Climbing out of our beds very early, my husband and I really couldn’t help grinning like idiots at each other, we were on the holiday of a lifetime and this morning we were booked on a heli-hike across the Fox Glacier.  Gathering at the shop in town we were shepherded to a creaky old bus and taken to the yard where two helicopters stood waiting. My first time in a helicopter! My stomach coursing with butterflies we were all given nailed boots to wear which were seriously heavy and everyone tramped out in a clatter to the helicopter.  Our guide Jason, who honestly looked about 16, helped the pilot allocate our seats in the helicopter, I was placed in the front and my husband behind me and we were off.

Rising up into the air looking over the stunning countryside of South Island New Zealand, Mount Cook gracefully towering over the Southern Alps, word fail me as I try to describe how I was feeling, anticipation, excitement, yes but they really don’t cover it.  As we followed the river up into the mountains they opened out into a valley displaying the bright teal glacier glinting in the sunshine. It was at this moment that the pilot decided to do a left hook to show us the valley at close hand and I really do mean close hand, suddenly we were almost upside down, I honestly thought my time had come and we were going to crash into the rocks below! From behind me a hand gripped my shoulder, yes, the other half thought so too.

The end however, was not nigh, the helicopter straightened out and the guide was wittering on in my headset about some waterfall or other whilst I fixed a smile on my face which was closer to a grimace but served it’s purpose in keeping my breakfast in my stomach, a useful tip I learned from watching CIS.  I had my eyes shut for the rest of the flight and when we touched down on the glacier a matter of minutes later it took every ounce of will power I possess to make my legs move out of the helicopter down onto the treacherous ice.

Hunkering down on the ice next to the other half whilst the helicopter left my eyes were streaming with silent tears, he gave me a big hug and we pulled ourselves together enough to listen to Jason telling us about the glacier and it’s movements, his hopes of finding us an ice cave.  We set off slowly, 15 extra pounds of boot on your feet and legs that feel like jelly don’t make for fast movement when the floor is solid ice.  Picking our way along, making sure each foot has a grip before you move the next one, the silence and majestic beauty of the glacier can’t fail to touch you even whilst you are quaking in awe, slowly my legs shored up and my trembling became minimal enough to enjoy our surroundings, the beautiful deep teal blue of the glacier is still one of my favourite colours.

We walked along an ice ridge high between bottomless crevasses and waited whilst Jason cut stairs in the ice to help us down to an ice cave which we took it in turns to peer into and take photographs, we chatted to a couple from Australia about the flight and they confessed to have been scared ridged too, it is a relief when you realise it wasn’t just you and I got my dare devil mojo back just in time to have a good clamber around in the blue ice tunnels  before we had to slowly make our way back to the landing site, hunkering down again whilst the helicopter landed to take us back to solid ground.

I did think once we returned to the town of Fox, that I might never get in another helicopter again, a week later though we were once more in the air being thrown around by another pilot who thought it was funny to scare the tourists rigid as part of the Queensland triple, Heli, jetboat and rafting day and guess what – we both laughed in the face of the assumed danger..

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