Franz Josef, New Zealand
Dedication is the Franz Josef Glacier site workers who re-cut the ice steps every morning.
With a stitch in my side I look out over the river and its crying cliff-faces. I don’t blame them—words here are not enough.
More satisfying than softball cleats, my crampons lodge me in fearless position. I test my balance, like someone strapped into skis for the first time, able to bend backward without falling.
Blue ice is something I’ve only seen in pictures, like the ombre autumn mountains in Vermont until I moved there.
We start our hike in t-shirts. By glacier’s top, triple layers—more as protection from ice burn than chill, the strenuous cardio sufficiently warming my skin.
There was no preparing for this.
When I do something I fear, I learn more about myself than in any college psychology class.
I meet my fiancé’s eyes, both our backs flattened to an ice wall, shuffling sideways on a narrow shelf. I want to take his hand, but there’s a deep trench at our feet just wide enough for an average-size adult to slip through.
He takes mine anyway.
When I conquer something I fear, it usually starts with a suggestion from Derek.
It’s not the ensuing muscle pain that I remember—though I know it was there—or whether I was sweating or shivering.
What I remember is feeling small and more involved with this Earth than I knew I could be–amazed by the landscape of a country that for half my life I didn’t even know existed.
I remember promising myself: never stop exploring.