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A Rainforest and a Glacier..in the same place? September 28, 2011

Posted by vpillmore in Glacier, Hike, New Zealand, Rainforest, Southern Alps, Weather.
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Not many people can say they hiked a glacier. Fortunately, I had the exciting experience of doing so.

As I have mentioned in my previous blog posts, I spent my Australian spring break on the South Island of New Zealand. Our tour group went to Fox Glacier, where we hiked up, around and down the historic glacier. It was a very exhausting walk but it was well worth it, and I would suggest everyone try it someday.

How does climbing a glacier relate to the weather? According to the West Coast of the Southern Alps website, approximately 140 glaciers flow through the Southern Alps; however, only the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers go about 250 meters above sea level and are accompanied by a temperate rainforest. Besides Argentina, this is the only other place you can experience being in a rainforest and seeing a glacier at the same time. It felt strange to be in a somewhat mild climate and witnessing some snow fall on top of a 13-kilometer long glacier. It is almost like getting the best of both warm and cold climates at the same time, but you can choose which one you want to be in with just a few steps. Crazy, right? I thought so.

Here is a slideshow of my hike. The pictures cannot express how amazing it really was!

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So, I encourage you to fly to New Zealand and go climb the Fox or  Franz Josef glaciers to experience this rare climatic change. Before you do so, let me give you a few tips from my hike:

1) Be well rested. This is a long, exhausting hike, and if you are not awake for this then you will most likely not get the best experience. Be ready to be on your feet for over four hours. You also want to be wide awake so you can listen to the tour guide and hear everything he says about the glacier. You will learn a lot if you are able to be alert and pay attention.

2) Stretch. It is important to stretch before you do this hike. You walk up and downhill A LOT. So stretch your legs to ensure you will not get sore. Do this whenever you get a break from the hike, too.

3) Charge your camera. This is something you NEED to keep on record that you did! There are so many amazing things you see on this hike that you will have to have photographs of, or even a video. So be sure your batteries are charged and ready to go.

4) Stay hydrated and eat. You will get very tired from this hike so it is important to stay hydrated to keep your body going. Be sure to bring an ice cold water bottle with you. You can refill this a couple times on the hike. There are small waterfalls on the hike that have non-contaminated spring water. It tasted great! Also, be sure to eat before you hike and bring a few snacks to munch on incase you get hungry. These are essential to keep your energy level up.

Have you already been to these glaciers? Maybe the one in Argentina? I would love to hear of your adventures and see your photos! Please share.

Damaging Earthquakes September 19, 2011

Posted by vpillmore in Christchurch, Earthquake, New Zealand, Weather.
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Several earthquakes have been occurring all over the world recently. In the past two or so years, there has been devastating damage due to earthquakes in Chile, Japan, Haiti, and New Zealand. After blogging about the 2009 Sydney dust storm, I decided to do some research on the New Zealand earthquake that occurred last March. The earthquake struck Christchurch, NZ where I began my 9-day tour over my Australian spring break. I was comparing my pictures of the city from when I was there to what it looks like now. It makes me sad to see such a beautiful city be destroyed.

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As you can see from the photos I posted, there was significant damage to Christchurch. According to Te Ara: The 2011 Christchurch Earthquake, on the afternoon of February 22, 2011, Christchurch was hit with a 6.3 magnitude earthquake, leaving more than 180 killed and several thousand with injuries. It is said that the major earthquake was an aftershock of the September 4, 2010 7.1 magnitude earthquake. The website also says the damage to the city could take up to10 years to repair.

A few nights ago, there were three different earthquakes in a 60-minute timespan. The first earthquake was off the coast of New Zealand and had a striking 6.0 magnitude. Seven minutes later, a 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck the coast of Japan. The final earthquake occurred less than 45 minutes later. It was a 6.0 magnitude off the coast of Cuba (OzarksFirst).

Following this strange pattern, earthquakes have occurred in Alaska, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, the Virgin Islands, and many other places. USGS: Science for a Changing World stated the most recent damaging earthquake was in Sikkim, India – a severe 6.9 magnitude earthquake (you can check this website out for the most recent earthquakes worldwide).

This earthquake has succeeded a death toll past 50 and at least 150 people suffering in area hospitals. According to the Los Angeles Times,
“reports suggested at least 42 people were killed in India and a total of 12 dead in Nepal and Tibet. The Sikkim government said it would provide $11,000 to the families of the deceased and $550 to those who suffered minor injuries.” This is a tragic event, and we can only hope people will continue to donate and help the people of India just like many did for the major Haiti and Japan earthquake disasters.

It is hard to decipher what to do in an earthquake. Usually there is no watch or warning and no real way to predict one is coming. It is important to have a plan for when an earthquake strikes. Find a safe place inside and outside, preferably not surrounded by windows or anything that can break. For more information on earthquakes and how to prepare for them, visit FEMA’s website.

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