Here is my buddy Juno with her amazing Travel tip on 5 things to make Glacier Hiking an experience of a life time!
1. Always opt for the full day tracking
When it comes to glacier hiking, you can choose between a half day or a full day track. I recommend you to take a full day track. One of my guide books said that the ice tracking is ‘certainly stunning but it is ice after all, and you can get dirty very easily’ i.e. end up with muddy shoes and dirt all over yourself. Well, some of it is true. Glacier hiking is not like hiking in Antarctica for example. It’s not just ice alone in the middle of nowhere. Franz Josef glacier tracking starts in the bushes and you will be wearing tracking boots which are very bumpy on the bottom of the feet for friction, so when you transition to ice, the ice gets dirty for sure from your shoes. This will soon clear up as you track into more ice.
Try not to opt for a half day track just because you are not good at hiking. I have to say you don’t have to worry about that because, before the real full day tracking begins, your guide will divide you into 3 or 4 groups, each according to level of experience in tracking. As such you can actually choose the easiest one. When you take the full day, you will see the ‘actual’ wonderous beauty at hand, rather than cutting short your experience by half and not getting much out of it at all.
My advice – don’t believe your book 100% when it tells you that ice is dirty or if it makes you feel like you are not good at tracking. Since you are already here- go for it!
2. Don’t wear too much
It was winter. So, my equation was ‘Winter + Loads of ice = as dress as warm as possible’.
Glacier hiking can be hard and unpredictable at times due to the temperamental weather. Since I was worried about the cold, I put on as many warm layers as I possibly could. Big mistake! Within half and hour I was down to my t-shirt from the exertion! A simple Rain jacket which I was lent, was good enough – water and wind-proof so it warms you up in no time. Of course I need to add that we were really lucky because we had wonderful weather for tracking that day. However because of the heat that builds up, just remember not to over layer your clothing.
3. Have fun but remember you are in an extremely dangerous place
Guides constantly remind you that this glacier is ever changing and that, “the cave you are looking at now, wasn’t here two days ago!”. I freaked out a little when I heard that but because I needed to concentrate so hard going up, I soon forgot my fear. Fortunately none of us got injured but one should not forget that one is actually in a rather dangerous place and be watchful at all times.
4. Always step behind one another
A person cannot hike up a smooth glacier, so the guides will make stairs for hikers before they go. The one very important thing you will learn before actual hiking starts is how to step up or down these stairs. Seems easy enough and like a thing you do everyday , but on the glacier, everything is different.
The bushes on the side will help you not to slide on the ice. They look like the jagged edge of a saw. Now you can imagine when you going down these stairs there is a tendency for the saw edges to tangle with your shoe string. That is not a problem if you are on solid ground or a safe place, but.. you are not! You are on ice, so pay attention and listen when your guide demonstrates this. Your life may depend on it !
5. Appreciate mother nature
Of course all the dangers and warning tips aside, glacier hiking is a wonderful experience and if you take all the safety measures as instructed into consideration, you are well on your way to the hike of a life-time. After that, the only KEY thing left to do is to ..appreciate! Appreciate the breathtaking beauty of your surroundings. You can see in all the pictures I took, how amazing nature is. The city I live in , Seoul has not many natural nature-spots in it, so I normally like to seek out nice places filled with trees, bushes and ocean, when on holiday- things like that. But believe me when I say, this Glacier is a whole different kind of nature I’ve ever seen before. Maybe it is just me but I have a strong hunch that no matter where you are from, I think you will be hard pressed NOT to fall in love with this ice wonder – The Glacier!
About this week’s guest writer
Jiyeon Juno Kim or affectionately knows as JUNO, is an avid traveler and writes a travel blog entitled “Runaway Juno” describing her love for traveling, food and seeing the world. Her favourite quotation that pretty much sums up her life’s motto – “Travel is not New. People have never been happy to stay in one place .. – on the wall of Chch, NZ Museum. ” Juno is based in Seoul, Korea.
Visit Juno’s website at Runaway Juno
Follow Juno on twitter.