|Backcountry in Tarn Basin (Kat Eatough)|
My last weeks at Cheeseman were too short. The snow was beautiful for the and of the season but with warming weather peoples minds turned back to the oceans and summer sports. Suddenly we had too few customers to stay open and sights turned to cleaning up for the close. Everyone became quite emotional at the end when we had to say goodbye to the many bonds that were forged on those slopes.
Now as I leave the snow behind me and look to the future I see ice up ahead. A great wall of ice... or better yet, a river of ice flowing out of the those very mountains I have just come down from. It starts up high with the snow falling in heaps. As the days make their cycle this snow will melt and refreeze again and again compressing harder and harder together until it forms one great body moving all the way down to the valley floor with fingers reaching up to such great heights. It is flanked by scree covered sloped that gradually take on vegetation as it descends until all around this glacier is a true rainforest. I've mentioned this in an earlier post but feel as though i must reiterate the point that there are few places if any others that exist on our planet where you can find these two features living together side by side.
|This Waterfall is over twice the height of Niagra Falls.|
I begin at Fox Glacier Guiding on October 9th. I am excited to begin and ready to learn all that I can about the glacier but for now I am busy exploring Milford Sound and up the west coast. This is a great place if you are interested in the outdoors... and able to put up with the rain. Living in Oregon has been great training for this type of environment and I am excited to become more familiar with the plants, birds and animals of the area. And there are many; from Penguins to Keas, Cabbage Trees to Orchids, hedgehogs to bats.
During a few days in Milford Sound Kat, Kim and I had the chance to explore. This is my second time to this place and it is no less amazing. It is actually quite deceiving because everything in the area is so grand and so magnificent that none of it appears to be at first. Making your way around the Sound (actually technically a Fjord) the scale of it all becomes more apparent and slowly it sinks in how incredible this place is. On a boat ride about the sound we saw dolphins bow-riding, waterfalls that flow upwards with the shear force of the wind blows through. The next day we kayaked about, giving a more accurate sense of the grandeur. The highlight of this excursion for me was when approached a beach to see 4 Fiordland Crested Penguins come out to greet us. They bathed in the water and then all swam right past the boats porpoising as they went. It was an lifting moment to witness from the endemic penguin.
|These falls never made it to the water below. Instead they would only feed back into the clouds around them.|
|Kim is excited about underwater life.|
|I miss SCUBA|
The water system in Milford Sound is extremely unique consisting of a freshwater layer saturated in tannins leached from the plants all around. This gives the water a black appearance from the surface like tea but meters underwater you can find the saltwater layer which is home to some wild creatures. Because of the dark top layer it is possible for many typically deepwater species to live at a very shallow depth here. One of the more profound is huge black coral trees (actually white in appearance). I want so badly to SCUBA dive this wild and largely unseen place, but I will save that for later.For now I go back to Fox Glacier and to set up my new home.
|Lake Matheson looking toward Fox Glacier with Mt. Cook's summit on the right.|
|Mountains of rock|
|Kat and I|
|Phoebe and Johnny|
|This is by far the nicest place I have lived in over a year.|
|The view from my window with one of the many helicopter flights passing to the left.|
"Live as if you were to die tomorrow.
Learn as if you were to live forever"