Trouble comes in threes
Trip Start Feb 18, 2005
56Trip End May 20, 2006
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I got up the next day and cleared out my room ready to get back on the bus, I was expecting to be picked up about 9.30am as Spike had dropped me off then, so by 10am I was starting to get worried! I was just organising another shift for accomodation with the owner Jack, when at 10.30am the stray bus pulled up outisde. With a farewell I sprinted out the door, worried I may have to stay and work.
There were 5 passengers on Ali cats bus
The hospital (when we eventually found it), cut off her ring and bandaged her hands, they said if they hadn't removed the ring she'd have lost her finger and wanted to keep her in overnight! She decided not to stay and would get her hands checked as we made our way down the coast. Either way, we were all glad we had decided to stop as Lisa was saying she'd be ok and din't want to hold up the bus any further.
As we were leaving Greymouth we decided to watch a DVD as the cloud was low and the views weren't too good. We began watching the original gone in 60 seconds movie when a car veered in front of us, I turned round to see her run up an embankment and flip the car end over end for about 20m, we stopped immediately to see if we could help. The car was upside down, with the front windscreen smashed out on the floor, the engine ruined and the roof caving in. The speakers and parcel shelf were about 30m further on. Amazingly the girl managed to crawl through the car and out the boot with hardly a scratch on her, we were all thankful that the only trickle of blood was from a cut finger! She was obviously in shock and was comforted by a local lady while we started directing traffic until the emergency services turned up to relieve us. We eventually got back on the bus in a much more somber mood. The others pretty much went to sleep so I spent most of the journey taking to Ali.
We arrived at Franz Joseph glacier and checked into our accomodation, Rainforest Retreat. Had some dinner, used the internet and booked onto our Glacier hike for the next day. We were advised that the half day hike isn't really worth it, so were toying between the idea of a full day hiking on the glacier or some ice climbing. Nick, Koji and I decided on the full days hike and the girls decided on a weather dependent Heli hike as Lisa wouldn't be able to grip the safety handrails while going up the glacier.
The weather forecast was overcast with rainy spells clearing towards the end of the day. We woke up to glorious sunshine that stayed for pretty much the whole day until we finished walking, it then poured down, we were so lucky. I was in the first of 4 groups with our guide Garth, we went up the first section very quickly, past the pre cut steps and bridges. The half day hike only comes to the top of this steep section and you can see why people say it is a little pointless. After a drinks break, we were issued our ice axes and began the fun, Garth was leading and cutting out a new path for us, he hadn't been this way for a while and needed to do quite a lot of work, filling crevases, knocking down precarious looking blocks of ice and generally making sure the way was safe. Going was slow and the other groups soon caught us up, the guides worked together and we went up, down and through often with a warning that we'd die if we fell down the hole to our left/right
We eventually made it through to the rocks and went up another 50m before stopping for lunch. Garth told us he was worried we'd have had to turn back but didn't want to turn 4 groups round so had pressed on regardless. After lunch we headed up to some highlight features, we went through a few holes in the rocks approx 1 in diameter and down a slide before getting in a snowball fight with the second group, we ran through a crevasse and lay in wait at the top to ambush the second group when they came through.
After this it was time to start making our way back down, going was a lot easieras we didn't have to go back the way we came! The scareist part of the day was when we got back to the first part of the glacier which seemed even steeper on the way down. With the sunshine, it only takes 15 mins for the hand rails and steps to start melting and become unstable so a couple of guides were running ahead to make sure everything was ok.
When we got back to the hostel, we decided to rest our weary legs with a nice spa and then a sauna. The Spa was massive (18 person) and Nick and I sat there with a beer without a care in the world before heading to the sauna to sweat out the dirt of the last few days. The Sauna resembled a broom cupboard and we had a struggle fitting 3 of us in there!