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HeliHiking the Fox Glacier – Day 49
Sunday 15th May 2005
As the morning brought with it a clear sky and bright sunshine, I knew there was a good chance that HeliHiking would be on today. I was looking forward to a great day.
I phoned the tour operators in the morning to confirm the adventure was still on, and to my delight, it was. At this point I was quite excited, and after thinking more about it – about the helicopter flight and the hike across the glacier – I was even more excited.
I arrived at the front office to hand over my New Zealand cash in exchange for a Fox Glacier HeliHike, and noticed a girl from the hostel I was staying at, Fran being her name. We chatted briefly before getting ready to board the coach that would take us to the helipad. Sitting on the tarmac were two helicopters ready to transport us all up onto the glacier.
Inside the helicopter my heart began to pound, and I was really looking forward to my first ever flight. We all put our headphones on and the machine fired into life, rotors spinning ever faster. We rose up into the air and suddenly everything began to look a lot smaller. The flight was great fun, and there was plenty to see all about, including the approaching glacier. From up here it looked immense, and I was itching to get on the ice, but wanted the flight to last longer. So far it had been incredible.
Once on the ice, we all attached our spikes to our shoes and set about getting use to the ice and all the rules that we had to become familiar with. We were told that the recent rain had transformed the surface of the ice. One and a half meters had vanished from the top, and all the ice was virgin territory for our guide, so we were told to be careful. Cracks and holes everywhere could easily swallow an irresponsible hiker, and the drop would be quite substantial, along with certain death. I suddenly felt a little cautious.
Our helicopter pilot decided to join us today, and it sounded as though this wasn’t his first time, but as the landscape had altered, he wanted to come along for the ride. It was all very slow and deliberate, but for a good reason. It was hard to know where the right places to walk were. This meant we had to track back several times to find a route, but it was all great fun. We came across a newly-formed tunnel in the ice, and took turns to crawl through to the other side.
We eventually came back to the landing site – new as of today – and took the flight back down to ground level. All in all it was a great adventure, and I would do it again in the future if I get the chance.
Back at the hostel I grabbed a bit of lunch with Fran before heading off to the nearby Lake Matheson, also with Fran. The weather was still fine at this moment, and it was perfect for exploring this beautiful place. The lake is also know as mirror lake – for reasons that should be obvious – and it certainly lived up to that name. It was simply stunning, and having Fran for company was great. The water is so still, and the atmosphere so peaceful, that it’s the perfect place to chill out and relax. I could sit here for hours.
The evening was spent watching a couple of videos, and just generally relaxing. It has been a great day all round.
Written by Daniel Stevens,
Founder of Roundtheworldtrip.org.
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