Gloworms and Waterfalls – Fox Glacier, New Zealand

The drive from Greymouth to the small glacier town of Fox got progressively more impressive by the minute. The land is getting more rugged and tho I thought it would get so much colder, when the sun is shining it heats the air to just the right temperature. We took a gravel sideroad to the red mountains and gazed at the landscape of hills, valleys and flora.

Susanne Nina Kenneth and I arrived into Fox where we were surprisingly upgraded from a dorm to a BIG room. This proved to be a real asset, especially when a large group would come in and fill up the the rest of the hostel. We climbed Franz Josef, played some pool at the local bar, and created lovely meals together. A nice change from the typical muesli is warm muesli porridge with apples cinnamon and almonds, so nice on a chilly morning. The management at Ivory Towers Lodge was so kind and generous that they even indulged us in a late night showing of Lord of the Rings which we enjoyed from our bed.

One day, it was absolutely pouring outside but it was still warm so I decided to go for a run. I started on the Minneahaha path which was only supposed to take 20 minutes. Well, the forest swallowed me up and I got lost. It started out innocently enough. The trees were so thick and the leaves so dense that I was sheltered from the rain only experiencing the occasional fat drop on my cheek. The moisture was fresh and it felt like a rain forest with the drip drop tings from the water.

Every thing was moving slightly reminding me how alive nature is, breathing. The trees were covered with tiny green round ivy type leaves. So many different textures of mosses and plant life, irresistible to touch. I walked along petting the plants and admiring the large stumpy trees which at times resembled dinosaur legs. I felt so little, like an mouse wandering through a giants backyard.

I don`t know where it happened but I lost the trail. I ran into a 3 tiered waterfall which were gushing fresh drops from the heavens. The birds were alive with the energy of the showers chirping and fluttering from tree to tree. I looked down and all of a sudden the leaves and rock path were missing!

“I couldn`t be too far off. Perhaps after I climb through these twisty branches…is that the path? Oh dear…I am SO lost. Again.”

I climbed over large giant tree stumps and through a maze of branches and vines. Because the rain had been quite steady all day, the ground was getting mushy and the plants were weakening. I noticed that my feet were starting to sink into the spongy forest floor into muddy holes disguised by the leaves on top. Glurp glurp! I wrenched my foot out of what felt like quicksand and realized that I had better get to higher ground and fast!

I looked up but could not get any idea of direction. All I could see was tree tops towering high above me with a patch of grey sky scattered modestly throughout. I have to admit that I began to get a bit scared as nothing looked at all familiar. I was certain that people hadn`t been walking through here for a very long time. I searched for some signs or clues to lead me to civilization but I was completely lost.

It began getting dark and I hesitantly made mental notes as to where the biggest driest tree lived in case I needed to sleep there later. I climbed up hill only to grasp onto trees and branches which would give way setting me back another 5 feet, giving me a slide in the mud to boot. I began to feel quite discouraged and tired, so I balanced myself with what seemed to be a deeply rooted tree trunk.

As I sat, I contemplated how it would be to spend the night in a tree trunk cave in the middle of a densely treed soggy forest. I decided that this was not appealing to me especially with the temperature dropping, permeating my swamp soaked trainers and rain suit.

With a new desperation, I scrambled higher through the array jungle of forest falling and bruising my shins about every 10 feet. Two hours later, I stumbled upon what I could safely discern was a path. My heart sighed with relief as I followed carefully along navigating around the large puddles of rainwater settling into the dips in the path. I came to a point where I saw that the path had been washed away so I turned and followed it back into the opposite direction. I think I had enough adventure for one day.

By the time I popped out onto the highway, I was so tired but almost crying from relief that I found my way out. I walked into the room and Kenneth Susanne and Nina just shook their heads at my drowned mouse look accompanied by my fair share of the forests` mud and leaves.

That night, we returned to the path I was originally shooting for during my run. This time, I brought Nina and Kenneth as well as flashlights to guide us. This time the path was flat and straightforward. Also now it was lined with thousands, no millions of tiny bright blueish specks of light. The glow worms get brighter when they are hungry and I think they must have been ravenous that night. It was pitch dark and instead of looking up at the stars in the sky, I just wandered along the path through the milky way of the forest.

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