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Ellen McCallie's Diary

Day 26: Rest Day

Photo: New Zealand landscapeI had talked to the local air safari company about flying from Franz Josef to Milford Sound, a fiord, and back. Kathy, Angie, and I were able to fly out this morning at 10:30 am, fly down the coast to Milford Sound, spend an hour and a half there, and then fly back over the mountains. The views were breathtaking. The flight was so smooth, only two small bumps, during which I just about crawled out of my skin. But it was excellent flying weather.

Most fun was picking out the geological features. Finding glaciers, hanging-valleys, and fiords became simple. Practice for the eye in real time works so much better than books. We flew over glaciers that were 28 km long — they just seem to go on forever. They start of as big snow piles at the top. They then look like white rivers of snow. When they move over steep areas they fracture into daggers and cathedrals, icy blue and green in color. At, or just below the snow line, they become littered with debris. The crystal white turns to a messed-up malt grey and black with chunks of rock. Finally, they either end, melting into a river, or are holed up as a lake, if a former terminal moraine has blocked the river outlet. Fun, fascinating, excruciatingly beautiful.

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Photo: Ellen McCallie
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