Bluestains and Timber Chutes

25-05-2019

The Clegganator, The Wonder Woman and the Flynnstien aka Meeeeeee

Unpublished canyons are like a box of chocolates.

I know at the end I’ll be left with half a dozen little cheery ripes that I wont eat…. Wait. No, that’s not right. Unpublished canyons aren’t like a box of chocolates at all….

Anyhoo

This is one I’ve had in mind to check out for a couple of years now but I wasn’t expecting it to be high quality and with other stuff to visit I never got around to having a look.

Then Phil said he wanted to check it out so I thought why not. I still had low expectations but as they say in the classics you never know if you never go.

Rounding out our nice little party was Jen, who I hadn’t caught up with for a while so was good to be on a trip together again

A little frost made for a chilly morning but it wasn’t long before we were stripping off layers and stuffing jackets into packs.

Wolgan views never fail to amaze

There were two branches to the possible canyon and we wanted to check out both. The first branch didn’t show much hope and when we came to a abseil point we decided to slip over the ridge to check the other branch first.

We dropped in via a side chute, in hindsight a little too far down the canyon. Up stream was a tight slot which would have made a good abseil and the hint of more slot up top.
I started chimneying up but it was tight and my ankle is still a tad stuffed from where I rolled it 2 weeks ago so gave it up as a bad plan
Jen checking out the slot
A short but tricky abseil just below where we scrambled in

So we get to the junction of the other branch hoping to reverse up it only to be blocked by a dry waterfall. A bit of traversing and we begin to scramble up the nose in between the two branches. Phil decided the scramble is not for him.

We get up above the fall only to find another immediately above it. I continue up the nose in what is the closest to proper rock climb I’ve done in a few years and manage to get above the next fall.

There isn’t much of a slot above this so I rig the rope and abseil back down to Jen and then we both abseil down to rejoin Phil

they were two nice abseils into to deep stagnant pools, luckily we were able to stay out of the water

When looking at the satellite image my suspicion was the best bit of canyon would be below the junction and while the stuff in the north branch was tip top below the junction was a nice, if short slot.

Ummm I think we are going to get wet, say I looking down into a deepish looking pool far to wide to play water is lava over.

I stuff my shirt into my overboardau dry bag and drop on in while the others put wetsuits on.

The first drop lands in a pool waist deep. With some guidance Jen manages to stop on a ledge and carefully stem around to the shallower bit. Phil is not so lucky and plunges in

There’s another 2 stage drop straight away with the stages separated by a 5m diameter pool. In I go…

The water was ice, not lava
The last abseil was nice

Then it was down to find a bit of sunshine and some lunch.

A short way down the main creek and we spear off track back up towards the cliff line

There’s a little grotto like canyon up here I want to show the others. It’s short but pretty in it’s own right and while it’s not very adventurous what makes it worth a visit is the old timber chute that once ramped it’s way up through it’s narrow confines

Phil and Jen (and Flynny) in awe of the history and the effort behind this engineering mystery

So the theory is it was built to slide logs down to the valley for pit props or fuel for coke ovens or for building poppett heads and bridges and stuff. Problem is there is no evidence up above it of any cut timber. Not a single sawn stump can be seen. It’s a mystery

Seek experiences not things. Live large and light up the darkness with a laugh

Party size: 3

Time: 7.5hr car to car relaxed pace with a bit of back and forth exploration

BACK

Fiddle Stick in the wilderness part 3

Continues from Part 2

The next canyon does not appear in any guide and I haven’t seen it marked on any map I’ve come across but unlike the two previous canyons that none of us had done Ryan had visited this one, stumbling across it on a trip a few years ago.

It will be more aquatic than the last 2, says he….

Anyhoo, it turned out to be a great little canyon

The hyper kids give the fiddle sticks a spit and polish and in we go again
I love this shit
Another fabulously narrow slot
Mmmmmm if this water was lava we’d all be burnt to a crisp no avoiding the swims in this one but the water is warmer than typically found in the blue mt canyons and the swims are relatively short
Stu heading down into and another splendid section
The Mad One in a dark section
The our last abseil for the day…. Or is it

So our intel and Ryan’s memory said there were four drops in the canyon, and this is true, but just down the creek we come to a substantial cliff line which looks borderline to big for our rope.

The general consensus from those who have explored this particular slice of the wilderness before is there are no large drops of any significance.

This one looks significant

Well that’s a bit of a buggar.

Anyhoo

We join two ropes and anchor the top one just above the knot on a munter hitch. I get on the bottom rope and head over the edge but due to over hanging ledges I can’t see if the ropes on the ground. The plan is once I get a visual, if it is not touching the ground Ryan will lower me on the munter.

As it was when I finally get a look the rope is close enough to the ground to make it down safe.

It’s getting late and we are a long way down the main creek from our camp site so we discuss options of trying to break a pass up through the cliffline while we still have light or trudge a few kilometres up the main creek to a pass Phil has used previously and climb that in the dark.

We opt for the former, Madie has a pass marked on her map we think we can link up with.

Unfortunately we get on to a ledge too early that doesn’t go and are forced to abseil off as light fades where the decision is made to retreat to the main creek and take Phils pass out.

It’s longer and more complicated than I expect but we eventually get to the top and onto the fire trail. We have a couple of kilometres to get back to camp.

The others are staying an extra night, a wise choice, myself and Russ break camp and trek a further several kilometres back to the cars for the long drive back to civilisation

All in all a great experience

Group Size: 6

Time: Car to Camp. 1 and a bit hours. Camp to camp 14 hours. All up just shy of 25 hours and 36km in the wilderness

So what did I think of the Fiddle Stick?

Well… It’s a lot slower than throw and go and has none of the advantages of lowerable anchor systems. There is also a lot more to be mindful of when setting up so will need constant practice but for wilderness canyons where the aim is not to leave anything behind, including slings, rope burns on trees or grooves in rock, it makes a lot of sense.

Another handy tool in the quiver, but as I said one you’d want to practice a bit to stay familiar with it’s use.

You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself: Alan Alda

BACK

Fiddle Stick in the Wilderness part 2

Continued from Part 1

Despite the complex looking multiple cliff lines we find an easy pass and up we go
Madie finds a cool little rock arch
Looking down towards the Nile in the Caperty valley through a gap in the Numeitta lines
We drop down into the top of our gully beside this grand old tree
Fiddle sticks at the ready and into the next spectacularly narrow canyon
The water is definitely lava in this one
Rus at an awkwardly flared section . And yes we stayed dry here
Ryan showing his bridging skill

Other than a dipping her boots Madie joins the boys in making it across, once again showing Pleather pants are better than a leather face. This is where my upper body strength failed and I took a plunge. The water is lava and I’m scorched to my neck or sumfink
The canyon continues it’s tremendously narrow twisting and turning, even having a nice glowworm tunnel at the bottom of one of the drops
Eventually even Stu is forced into a shallow wade

And then as the canyon opens out we explore a pass up to the side that proves to be surprisingly easy and make our way over to our next goal

Continued

Fiddle Sticking in the Wilderness

11/05/2019

Soggy Bottom, Balls Deep, All in, Just a Bobble, Dragged a Toe and Ah Stuff it I’m in, AKA meeee

It’s 9pm, it’s the middle of May and I’m following Madie down a fire trail on another wild adventure.

The snow clouds that swirled around all day had hampered the drive out with constant rain and a smattering of sleet yet as we pull into the car park to meet the others they miraculously clear and we have a crisp stary night for our walk out to where we will camp above the canyons.

We’re not the only obsessive compulsive canyoning weirdos this time around, joining us are Rus, Ryan, Stu and Phil.

Madie had been recently converted to fiddle stick ghosting/Leave-no-trace techniques and I’m keen to check it out but first we pitch tents and enjoy a night of banter around the camp fire.

We’re up before sun rise and set off at first light amid one of the most spectacular pretty dawns I have witnessed.

After a few kilometres walk further along the fire trail we spear off into the bush looking for our first canyon. There are no track notes for the canyons out this way and the un-tracked terrain makes the whole area something special.

After a bit of navigation deliberation, something that would become somewhat of a theme for this trip, we find the entry point of our first canyon and after some tips from Madie, Ryan and Stu on the finer points of fiddle sticks we drop in
A game of “The water is lava” ensued. Pleather pants for canyoning is a thing now.

Another notch for our Bow or sumfink
Fiddle sticking is all well a good but for true leave no trace techniques some of us down climbed this one, but the bottom has a bit awkward and Phil was not comfortable so Madie set a rope for him and followed him down
Tolkien use to write about places like this, we all thought it was fantasy

And then the canyon opens out and we make our way down to the main creek aiming for a pass up to our next canyon

Continued