Last spotted in San Francisco, USA on March 28, 2003, 1:23 pm
Who is he? Where is he going? Where has he been? David Barrett / Quinthar
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After taking a nice hike up the island/hill I was rewarded with a great view of the Franz Josef Glacier, named after one of the early European settlers of the area, and the source of the city's name. The Franz Josef Glacier, I'm told, is one of I believe only three glaciers in the world that is set amongst leafy jungle instead of arctic wasteland (the other two are in Chile, I believe). The dirty ice juxtaposed against the lush greenery is just a strange sight, as if the valley just can't pick a single climate and be done with it.

Being winter in New Zealand (due to that whole Southern Hemisphere thing), the runoff from the glacier was a mere trickle meandering through a vast rocky riverbed. I'm told that during the summer, the water raises high enough to turn that distant hill into an island. I guess there must be good reason for the 10' tall dikes lining the riversides. Incidentally, seeing as how most of the water was solid ice just minutes ago, I decided against an afternoon swim.
Though the weather was a bit brisk, this brave flower eschewed the cold to warm passers-by.
The single picture that I managed to pull out of my cold (but fantastic) hiking adventure was of the remains of a large ice-slide. As we changed from our standard hiking shoes (for me, my trusty Tevas) into heavy-duty ice boots, we heard a slow cracking/tearing sound coming from just up the glacier. From our vantage, another hiker and I were able to turn just in time to see a huge fragment of ice sheer off one of the steep faces and shatter while crumbling to the ground. Given its size, the entire operation occurred in a sort of slow motion, gravity racing to catch up with the magnitude of the fall (to get a sense of scale, that little rock in the middle of the river next to the ice is about the size of an adult). The others scampered up just in time to see the ice settle, and one of the guides remarked that it was the largest slide she'd ever seen on this glacier. Talk about being in the right place at the right time!

Copyright 2021 - David Barrett -