Imagine the sound of rain on your tent and then realizing that the sound was not rain but rather black flies trying their best to get in. Amelia and I lay awake in the morning in our sleeping bags looking up at the top of the tent which is is covered in black. Pretty much the last thing we want to do is get up and venture outside but we know that the day must begin. We prepare for our exit by tucking our pants in our socks, pulling our hoodies up around our necks and spraying any exposed bits of flesh. As we step outside the pesky black flies still manage to find a tasty spot to feed on. This morning it is the palm of my hands and in between my fingers......omg....so unbelievably itchy.
The campsite we are at is absolutely amazing except for the black flies. On one side of our tent is a beautiful New Zealand beach and roaring ocean with amazing crashing waves and on the other side off in the distance is the most amazing New Zealand glacier...Fox Glacier. Totally scenic. Luckily last night we were able to enjoy happy hour in our camping chairs gazing up in awe at this massive piece of moving ice before the black flies set in, in force!
On this day we set off to get up close and personal with the glacier! I had an idea that the day might be an adventure because we had heard that they no longer allowed people to hike right up to the glacier without being part of a guided tour. This is the kind of thing that Graham seems to take on as a personal challenge.
When we arrived at the parking lot there was a huge sign letting everyone know that there was a nice short 80 meter walk to the lookout area. I knew that Graham had other plans as he loaded up our backpack with water, food, first aid kit, etc... Cathy had decided to come with us on this adventure and she got to see first hand how days like these unfold.
We hiked to the end of the path and stood at the roped off finish point with a number of other tourist. Behind the rope was a full size photo cut out of a park guide with his hand up in the stop position. The sign read....."Proceed no further without a guide!" Another sign next to this one listed all the potential dangers of proceeding.....falling rocks, moving ice, glacier rivers, and one other I can't remember. Graham became quiet and began to scope out the situation. I could see him looking for potential trails and weighing the risks. At this point in our adventures I usually hang back and try to decide for myself whether or not I am going to join him. I could see tour groups on the glacier and I could see the trail they were following. The risks did seem manageable but the part that made me uncomfortable was climbing over the rope in front of all the other tourists. Cathy hung back during all of this and seemed to be content just to wait and see where this all ended.
A tour finished and came past us all and we had heard that there wasn't any jail time or fines for pushing past the signs, so all at once we made the decision to just do it and we pushed down the ropes and climbed past the friendly photo of the park guide!
The climb to the glacier was pretty easy. Nothing compared to our volcano hike a few days previous. We past a few tours and no one said anything to us. Everything was going great.......until Guide Graham decided it would be cool to hike off the path on the sides of the wall to overlook the glacier. We all followed but with each step I was getting more and more nervous. We stopped for lunch and as we began to eat I looked up at the ice shelves above us and could see rocks and gravel sliding down. I decided lunch was over and it was time to head back to the marked trail. I won't lie to you I was freaking out a bit. Again Cathy took it all in stride and packed up her lunch and followed anxiety stricken Julie and the kids back to the path.
As we walked back I heard this huge sound of an avalanche and I looked across to the other side of the glacier and watched as part of the side wall slipped away. My heart was pumping! Finally we were at a point that I felt safe. We stopped and let my heart rate return to normal and we finished our lunch and took a few pictures. Alex yelled at me for high tailing it out of there without him and accused me of leaving my children behind! Too funny. I told him I left him with Nurse Cathy and that she would of taken care of him. I reminded him of the time we saw the pirates and he hopped down below and left Amelia and I on deck and he was dangling by his tether on the stairs! Pay back!
At this point Graham made the whole day worth it. He found this amazing trail that took us along the side of a mountain. We passed waterfall after waterfall and saw some of the most amazing scenery. The trail was dangerous and we did pass signs reminding us of the steep slopes and edges and not to proceed without a guide but this all just seemed to add to the excitement. At one point we even needed to descend a ladder. Totally wild. I loved it. I stopped Graham and thanked him yet again for pushing me beyond my comfort zone and he replied...."I probably could of picked a better spot for our lunch!" Man I love this guy.
The grand finale of the day was a picture of Graham hanging over the life size cut out of the guide with his hand in the stop position and a huge grin on his face. As we walked back to our car, Cathy remarked on what an amazing day it had been. She got to see first hand that "Perry Style" isn't always smooth sailing but most often it is a happy ending!