We spent Saturday hiking on Petit Moreno Glacier in Glaciers National Park. It was one of these touristy day trips where a bus picks you up first thing in the morning then proceeds to a dozen more hotels until it’s filled up with camera-toting tourists speaking in tongues. We generally try to avoid these kinds of excursions but we couldn’t resist this one; they offered to take us hiking on a glacier. When are we ever going to have the opportunity to do that again?
Petit Moreno Glacier is 4 times the size of Manhattan. The 3 mile wide wall of ice rises 200 feet above the Lake Argentino and, unlike most glaciers around the world, it grows each day. Having spent hours of the prior day at the state of the art glacier museum in El Calafate, we had seen dozens of pictures of this glacier, and really didn’t expect much of a surprise. But seeing Petit Moreno in person was different. It was huge. It had a million different shades of white, grey and blue that we saw change as the cloudy morning became a bright, sunny afternoon. And it was loud. It sounded like thunder when large chunks broke off and fell into the lake below. That, not the hiking, was the best part of day.
The hiking was ok, but we were with a group and had to follow a leader in a single-file line, then wait while each member of the group snapped the same photo of some crevasse or sinkhole or incredibly blue section of the glacier. We knew what we were getting into though — and we learned something new. Now that we’re proficient in hiking with crampons strapped to our feet, we’ll be all set if we ever visit a less touristy glacier.