Xmas in July in June in 2021

26/06/2021

Kylie, Jason, Jen, Kristo, Hywaida, Aimee, Ethan, Muz, Sonya, Mon and meeeeeee

With a couple of birthdays around this time Kylie wanted to get the gang together for an excursion. As it was going to be July and the gang likes dressing up Xmas in July made sense

And then we moved it forward a week so Xmas in July in June it was.

Lucky, as that afternoon the Gubberment announced lockdown,/stay at home rules for the filthy flatlanders and extended them to include the pox ridden, beanie wearing, hippies in the Blue Mountains

Anyhoo, We’d been talking about wandering down Valley of the Waters to check out Vera falls (the highest falls in that particular creek, one I had done before but only had vague memories of) and thought why the hell not. Surprisingly many in the group hadn’t ventured further down than the base of Empress falls. Oh man the next two, Sylvia Falls and Lodore Falls are beautiful and not 10min further down.

But I get ahead of myself. Pulling into the car park I see Kylie in candy stripes and Hywaida is busy Grinching up Kris.

Shit! this green stuff doesn’t come off. says she as I get out of my car

Kris looks alarmed. What is a grinch anyway?

Worth it but

Others rocked up, frocked up and off we went

First stop: the base of Empress for a photo op

Stunning location. Stunning people
Mischievous elves in their natural habitat
The Grinch stealing Christmas.
Christmas didn’t seem to mind being stolen

After lots of photos and nearly as many laughs we continue our way down the trail. Vera is a long way down but it’s pretty walk

Below Lodore the trail gets rougher but not as vague as I remember it and despite the distance the time flies in good company and banter and before long we are standing on the large, slippery AF rock shelf at the top Vera

the top of Vera falls

You are probably thinking, That’s a big group, but technically we are not canyoning and only half of us are doing the abseil. The rest are out for a walk and Xmas in July cheer.

So now we need to work out how we are going to do it.

We want to go through the falls and work out a good anchor option. Aimee and Krys get busy setting it up.

Me and Kylie breifly discuss the abseil. The toppo suggest the falls are 45-50m. My rope is a tad over 50. We left Jason’s 60m in the car. I tie the end of my rope into Aimee’s anchor and toss the end down to see if it will reach. Then try to get to a spot were I can see.

I can’t see if the tail is on the ground.

We know there is a large ledge about 10m from the bottom but I can’t see it. Kylie suggests first person down takes the spare rope and if possible joins the two at the ledge so that we are not needing to pass a knot mid abseil in what is going to be very cold water spray.

From here we had some communication break downs.

I was planning to be anchor bitch… I mean “monitor”. I know me and Kylie spoke about whether to swap over to a releasable or leave it as we would probably need the full length of rope.

Those not planning to abseil had already continued down the walking track to the base so Kylie moved up to a place where she could signal down to them. The rope isn’t on the ground.

People looked nervous and reluctant to go first.

I have ascending gear, I’m happy to go. I volunteers.

Aimee took over anchor duties. We discussed that if I needed to tie the extra rope on at the ledge I’d give 5 clear whistle blasts. Or maybe I discussed that with Kylie. As I said communication broke down. We all put trust in each other and assumed things.

Never assume things

Kylie somehow makes phone contact with Hywaida who confirms the rope reaches the ledge. Relief.

Ok no need to whistle, everyone knows the ropes will be joined and they need to pass a knot on the ledge.

I check Aimee is good, get on rope and go. We didn’t pause to discuss changing the anchor now that we had updated info.

Slippery Start. Then boosh.. I’m into it. It’s pretty much 40-45m of overhanging abseil. You’re in the main flow, then behind it. The wind moves the waterfall meters sidedways and front and back so you are in it then not in it then bam! back in.

Yours truly coming over the edge
I have a shower every 2 weeks whether I need it or not

I stop on a small ledge 3/4 the way down. There are a lot of loose rocks and I kick them off now rather than have them dislodge and smack someone on the noggin later, not thinking the sound of rocks crash down might freak out those up top….

I reach the big ledge. There is 4 or 5 m of rope on the ledge and a large dead tree between me and the edge. Rather than leave a long tail to possibly tangle in the tree I go off rope and signal for the slack to be taken up.

I hadn’t discussed this possibility with Aimee but she takes up the rope and when I signal to stop she is wondering what now? Remember, we hadn’t converted back to a releasable system.

She realised I needed the rope reset so ties a alpine butterfly and captures the slack in the loop. Yep that’s 4m of rope in the AB’s loop.

Meanwhile, down below I’ve joined the ropes and tossed the end down. Rookie error, I don’t keep hold of the rope and the angle takes it out away from me. Gingerly leaning over the dead tree I grab the rope and pull it back to me.

Unbeknownst to me, Aimee feels this but without being able to see and with communication difficulties she thinks I’m getting back on rope, she is only halfway through tying the alpine butterfly. Understandably it freaks her out and she gets it locked off as fast as possible, leaving a bit of her hair in the knot in the process

So she believes I’m on rope. I’m on the ledge waiting for an OK to go.

Once again the waterfall is swaying in the wind. I’m out of it. I’m in the spray. It’s dumping on me. I’m getting cold.

I look to the others at the bottom for guidance. I get a thumbs up (I think that is they have confirmation from the top I’m right to go, later it was explained it was confirmation the rope now reaches the ground

So I give the rope a gentle test pull. It holds. I pull again. Sweet. I get back on rope and make my way around the tree to the edge of the ledge. There I notice the rope has caught behind a flake on the next ledge up. I flick it a few times to free it and this gives me a tiny bit of slack,

I’m stranding on the lip.

I try to adjust up as I normally would but I’m using the cutaway tag on my harness to leave room for my ascender so where I’m use to the device taking up is 2 inches above where it actually does. I have a little slip

Shit!

Now back in my misspent youth I may or may not have done some dumbshit(TM) that I don’t condone now. One of those dumbshit(TM) things my brother and I may or maynot have done on the odd occasion was the old Hollywood throw a heap of slack out and jump over the edge trick. So as I slip it’s second nature to me to make sure I have the least amount of friction at the device as I can so when the rope takes up it reduces the shock load as much as possible.

As dramatic as it looks my “big slip” was just a few inches (story of my life) followed by a fast but controlled slide into the pool at the bottom (shut up)

Safely at the bottom I dance about to get warm.

How was that rope stretch at the ledge, Jen laughs.

Near shit myself, says I

Kylie and Ethan come down

The post I-was-scared-but did-it anyway-fark-that-was-cold awesome feels, excellently captured by Monica

Jason had opted out of the abseil as he had thought we were doing the dry line and didn’t bring the right gear. I offer him mine and we head back up.

Up top Aimee fills me in on her freak out which freaks me out…. She was still a bit rattled and wasn’t going to do the abseil. We talk it out and she decides to give it a go. It really is an awesome abseil

Aimee-abseils-Xmas-in-July-in-June-style

We all head back up to the top of the falls for a bite to eat, some not so awesome Xmas carolling and bell ringing and a bit of a debrief on how the communication had fallen down (the great thing about this group is there is no blame or finger pointing. Just, this is what we think went wrong and this is how we think we can improve. The conversation continued online over the proceeding days)

It doesn’t get much better

Now all that’s left is an hour and a half or so up stairs to get out….. Of course we had to break up the walk with a bit of fun….

Icy cold fun

The tourists were amused

So in the end the falls were about 60m lip to pool, add in the anchor is a fair way back…. Take long ropes.

All in all a very Yuley day out with very Yuley Folk

Find people who inspire you, make you laugh and are great to hang out with. then hangout with them

And remember you are awesome too

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Winter Wolganfalls Weirdos

14-06-21

Gadget, Penny, Chief Quimby, Professor Von Slickstein and Me… I mean, Dr Claw

Whatya doing on the Monday of the long weekend? Asks Gadget

No plans. What do you have in mind? Says I

Options were thrown up before settling on a Go Go Gadget excursion back to Wolgan falls.

We’ve been talking about getting back there to do a wet line after rain. It almost happened after the March deluge but we wimped out fearing the road maybe impassable.

And the stars just haven’t aligned since.

But now we have had a bit of rain through the week, then a good dump of snow on the plateau.

Time to give it a crack

Unfortunately Brain had to bail last minute…. Now I was concerned. How would Penny help Gadget and the others foil Dr Claw without him?

Anyhoo

We meet up at the ZigZag railway on a crispy morning, pile into cars and head in (Yeah we were going the long way, or at least the slow way, but we had our reasons)

The road was boggy but some awesomely excellent driving by Von Slickstein saw him follow us through in his 2WD ute.

Packed up, nervous whizs and off we go

The trip is pretty basic, some easy nav along the ridge, and a couple of dry abseils land you on a large flat shelf above the falls.

Its a pretty spot

©Ed
Gadget signs us onto the log book ©Ed

And it’s from this point we plan to mix things up. The usual line is in 2 stages a few meters to river left of the falls. Despite ice in puddles and a few patches of snow up top we are hoping to rig things to go straight down the guts.

We discuss options, a tree would have us in the perfect spot, but it’s a looooooong way back.

We have everything we need to build a long anchor but ideally we’d set it as a retrievable so we don’t leave anything behind.


Options were discussed before deciding to use a shorter rope around the tree set on the fiddlestick near the edge then tie join the main line below the stick…

Go Go Gadget retrievable anchor and Roberts your Aunty’s husband or sumfink

Should put us right in the flow, says Gadget
Right about here I reckon
So Kylie, now we do the things with the things so we can do the thing we came to do, or sumfink
Von Slickstein offers to guineapig. Trust us Stirlo, sure we’ve never done it before but what could possibly go wrong
Looking good so far

Stirlo’s down and so far nobody has died. Wootwoot

Penny gives it a crack ©Aimee
Kylie taking the pull cord with Ed, Aimee and Stirlo bleow
About to get amongst it
It’s bathy warm
©Aimee

And we are all down, now to see if we can retrieve things

Kylie pops the fiddle stick. Success.

Stirlo and Ed pull the rope. Success

‘Cept the fiddlestick then wedges itself in the only crack on the halfway ledge and the tail of the rope wraps itself around the only stick in the only crack on the halfway ledge…

Luckily the way out goes up to the halfway ledge and a delicate bit of rope work with the spare rope gets me in a position to release both

We high 5 and begin to pack up for the haul out

Voices…. Up above smiling faces pear over the cliff. I recognise Dick. He is with Laurie, Mick, Peter and crew. This is 2 trips in a row we’ve run into them. We head up and say g’day

Then we are back in the cars for a bite to eat and then back through the mudbath for a little add on that took longer to get there than to do.

Worth it but

 Artemis a short little canyonette above the pool of Dianna

Anchor trees in this one can be a bit hard to get and ghosting (Fiddlestick/smooth operator..) is definitely the way to go. Would hate to see slings or chains in this one

x

©Aimee
Aimee taking a delightfully cold dip in the Pool of Dianna

And 10min later we’re back up at the cars

Another awesomely excellent with awesomely excellent mates.

“Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you; spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.” — Amy Poehler

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Bunny Bucket Buttress

Last year Madie threatened/promised to drag me up Bunny Buckets Buttress. It’s kinda the big easy of the Pieces Pass area. A mega classic grade 18 that wonders up 310m of the Grose Valley clifflines.

Unfortunately I had a series of tendon injuries and just felt I’d be a liability.

I haven’t done a lot of climbing lately but was starting to feel good again. I mentioned to her that I’d be keen once I get a bit of endurance.

OK we are doing it Saturday, Says Madie. You and me on Bunny Buckets, Leo, Lucie and Felix will go up next to us on Randy Rabbit Ridge (a grade 20 that basically parallels BBB)

OH shit!! I’d done 8 pitches of climbing in the last 6 weeks. Bunny Buckets was 8 pitches one after another, 5 of which were right at my climbing limit at the moment. Not to mention most of the pitches were longer than any pitch I have done lately…

I admit I had a bit of a anxiety attack at the thought of not being up to it. I lost sleep worrying about it. I’d hate to be one of those people who claim they are better than they are then ruin everyone’s day by not being as good as they thought

Shut up brain. Suck it up! This is an awesome opportunity. No more excuses. I’m in.

I tend to get real nervous leading up to a trip right up until I get out of the car and get walking but after a crappy day at work on the Friday I slept like a log and I woke up feeling calm and excited for the day

The car park was packed. Don’t they know how cold it is? There are a few abseil routs down, We pick the fastest one and pass one group on setting up on the other. We then meet Lucas and Ben at the bottom, they graciously let us go first and somehow weren’t put off be my floundering about pretending to be a rock climber.

I’d have to say I had a moment halfway up pitch 3 where I was struggling with a move and started second guessing myself and it took Leo shouting encouragement/threats from across the void to convince me to push on. I tried again, got the move easy and continued on.

In the end I hang-dogged the first 3 pitches, took a swinger on the traverse where had to resort to ascenders to get back on route and, I climbed ugly but I got up with out needing to be hauled (TBH I think Madie was taking a lot of my weight at times) and I couldn’t be happier.

The second last pitch was a glorious vertical wall. Once again it was right at the upper end of my skill level but more to my style than the lower pitches at that grade. I was shot, muscle fatigue had well and truly set in. I’d struggle up 2 or 3m clip my safety to the bolt and hang, resting for what seemed an eternity then I’d go again. But I loved every minute of it.

My mates really are awesome.

“I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy, I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.” -Anonymous

Surround yourself with awesome people, experience awesome things: Flynny

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Newnes Plateau

02/05/2021

Edwin, Ethan, Russ and meeeeeee

Anyone available to do something on the 2nd? Asks Ed

Sure, says we.

You want to do a Flynny bash to look for a canyon of probably poor quality? says I

And so we find ourselves walking down a long disused fire trail that is barely distinguishable from the rest of the post-fire landscape.

Soon we leave even that vagueness of a trail and make our way due(ish) north down a ridge looking for a short slot. The only thing I’d heard about it was a. “it’s ok for an unpublished canyon on the Plateau” and ii. The last abseil was meant to be “a gooden” (TM)

When I say “unpublished” there is a grid reference in the guide but checking the satellite that GR looks well off what I am sure is the target, so we go with my gut feel and just wander down for a look, find the slot we are looing for and drop on in.

Careful Russ its slippery

The start was pleasant. Straightaway dropping down a small waterfall. We contemplate setting the rope but after a good look I decide to slide. We had considered not taking wet suits…. Glad we did

Almost immediately we were greeted with another drop, one that would require abseiling

©Edwin

everyone safely down, rope and pull cord stowed and just around the corner the bottom dropped out of the creek dramatically.

We set a temporary anchor and throw down 27m or so of rope on a releasable and Ethan volunteers to go first. Its a tricky start and then an awesomely spectacular abseil. I bleed out rope and as Ethan reaches the bottom the end is just high enough off the ground for him to land and dismount comfortably.

Ed follows him down then Russ helps me set the fiddlestick and takes the pull cord.

Russ about halfway down ©Edwin

There are some dry canyons around the edge of the Plateau that have long abseils but it’s rare to get a wet one this high in these parts.

Me taking a seat ©Edwin

And that was it. All over red rover.

Plenty of action for a shortish walk and 150m of canyon

OK, right should get us out. Says I, but left looks interesting.

We follow Ed and Ethan up to the left through the king ferns

©Edwin

All the (short) way up the gully teased us with the prospect of turning a corner into a canyonette that would ramp up through the cliffs

But in the end it cliffed out in a gloriously over hung ampitheatre

We head back down and up the other side. The gully looked like it would go easily but we opted to climb out early

We have lunch on the cliff tops above what becomes a major gully as it makes it’s way towards the Wolgan. Its barely 12.30.

Shall we do sumfink else? says I

After not much deliberation we opt for one of a pair the rest had not done before. I didn’t have my notes or map with me. But how hard could it be?

Last time I remember the scrub leading to the good bit was horrendous and the fires hadn’t seemed to touch this little bit of the forest so I drive a bit further down the road, check google maps, and aim for the most canyony looking bit.

A lovely little meadow gave us a deceptively steep and slippery way down

and we arrive smack bang on the most canyony bit

Only as soon as I see it I remember the most canyony bit was the very end and we’ve missed a few jumps and slides and fun bits.

The boys find a cave ©Edwin
©Edwin

And then it’s back up the hill to the car before it pisses down.

another great adventure with great mates.

How many worlds are in your world? Andy Anderson

They are all worth visiting at least once: me

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Into the Slot

17-04-2021

Kylie, Kristo, Hywaida, Jason, Jen, Ethan and Meeeee

When Gadget asked me if I had any plans for the 17th I was like you know I don’t plan that far ahead.

Well would you be interested in doing the Kanangra Main trip that we changed plans for earlier? Says she

Does the Pope shit in the woods? Wait, that’s not the saying. Does a bear poop catholics? Still not it….

Anyhoo, I rocked out to Kanangra Boyd on the Friday night to met up with Kylie and we set up camp in the fading light.

We were soon joined by Jen for diner and banter around the camp fire

Jason rocked in a little later and as the temperature dropped we retired for the night with nervous excitement for what the next day would bring.

The day brought an early start.

A quick breaky around the camp fire and then off to meet Ethan, Hywaida and Kris at the carpark.

Are we doing the wall or the slot?

The Slot. Let’s plan on that and we can reassess if we have to once we see the water levels

Hi Ho it’s off adventuring we go ©Jen

Getting to the start of the slot involves traversing across a loose narrow ledge. Jason was leading the way.

hey, did you see that? Calls I

See what?

Highland Copperhead snake (Austrelaps ramsayi) tucking his head into his hidey hole

Of course now the rest of us need to get past. I’m pretty comfortable around snakes and I’m hoping no one else freaks out. I point out the unexpected hazard and step over.

Kylie steps up but the rock she steps on moves. The tail quickly disappears.

OK be careful and don’t step on those 2 rocks….

To my relief everyone comes across without hesitation and snakey stays safe in his hole.

One of our members had a little trouble with a redirect that I probably didn’t properly explain the process for passing. Jen and Jason set up a little 3:1 haul to help out ©Jen
Kris dropping down P1.

The slot has a bit of a reputation for projectiles. The top of P1 and the stance in between P1 and P2 are littered with loose rocks, anything from pebble size to large slabs. If you are heading in you need to make sure your group is extremely careful. It’s Kylies trip and I didn’t want to take over but I did stress no one was to move above P2 while people were on rope and we didn’t have an issue.

Kylie coming to set up the next anchor
Kristo and me in the slot ©Kylie
Looking down P2 to where things get interesting ©Kylie
Jen descending into the abyss @Kylie
Hywaida? @Kylie
It’s a cold pitch to be anchor bitch. The wind and spray whistles viciously through here ©Kylie
Hywaida enjoying the experience ©Ethan
We set up a guided rap just for the practice and then we are on to the main route.

And then we are back onto the Main route


Kris on p5 With the main falls above us @Jason
©jen

The rest of the photos are in no particular order as there are so many waterfalls and I enjoy the experience so much that looking back I struggle to remember what order they came in.

Photo credits to the various people mentioned above

It’s getting late by the time we reach our exit. When doing awesome stuff with awesome people time has no meaning for me and for various reasons the descent had taken longer than expected.

With the days getting shorter it was going to be touch and go for us to get up the scrambles before dark.

I’ve done the exit up the ridge several times now but each time I seem to go a slightly different way and experience a different number of scrambles with varying degrees of dodginess.

There’s a bit of a track starting to form now but that’s not to say it takes the best path and a coupe of branches definitely takes you on more difficult routes. This time up we miss all the trickiest scrambles except 1. It was shitscary but we all got up it with just a little swearing and encouragement and we reach the tourist track just as the light is fading.

All in all another excellent day out with truly amazing people

Group size: 7

Time: 11hr car to car

Deep calls to deep: Psalms 42:7

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A Blue Mountains canyon

Marcia, Geoff, Madie and Meeeeeeeee

06/04/2021

So I wanted to checkout a couple of small, less visited creeks in the mountains. The above mentioned legends joined me. I had a tip one creek had a small canyon section but I wasn’t expecting much. We packed ropes just in case. We didn’t pack wetsuits….

©Geoff
©Geoff

Our creek soon starts to develop a little canyonette

©Madie
©Madie
©Madie
©Geoff

The creek contained two small, but very pretty canyon sections.

Our original plan was to continue down through the clifflines then skirt around and walk up another creek. But changing plans is what we do the bestest

I reckon the gully might give us a short cut over the ridge, says I

Lets do it, says Madie

It would save a couple of kilometres of creek walking, says Marcia

Geoff looks sceptical

I scramble up and drop a rope down

©Madie
©Madie

And then we had lunch and made our way back to the cars

As always a great day exploring new things with good mates

And remember….

Every song has a “you”

A “you” the singer sings to

and you’re “it” this time. Ani DiFranco: Dilate

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Kanangra Main via The Slot

17-01-2021

Russ, Madie, Leo, Jeremy, Jeremy and meeeeeeee!!!

After being devastated by fires, ravaged by flood and generally off limits with COVID restriction Russ and Libby looked like they were finally going to get hitched… Wait, that’s a different story, I mean the Kanangra-Boyd NP was quietly re-openned to remote activities on Christmas eve 2020. That meant access to the Kanangra canyons was back on. Woot Woot!

‘Cept the weather was miserable and water levels kept most sensible parties away.

But water levels began to recede and reports started coming in that well equipt groups with white water experience and skill had successfully begun negotiating a couple of the more popular ones or, at least, parts there of.

We needed to get the gang back together for sumfink big before Russ had to take a break to keep himself pretty for the nuptials or sumfink and photos from Kanangra Main to the emergency exit below pitch 3 looked ace. So plans started to be planned in our very unplanned, half planned, let’s solidify the plan as we go kinda planning routine.

The Kanangra area tends to hold it’s water levels longer than the typical Blue Mountain canyons but a week of sunny weather had things easing off a bit and a bunch of different options were optioned up before we finally opted a full run of K-Main via the Slot option.

Eager Beavers setting off in glorious sunshine and the vivid Kanangra-Boyd regrowth
Views out over Kanangra Gorge towards the Thurat Spires on a Blue Bird morning ©Madie

Last time I attempted a trip through the Slot things did not quiet go to plan and eerily as we traversed across the top of the usual entry there was another group were setting off down the main wall again.

Same anchor, slightly different angle 14 months apart

We slip past the main entrance and gear up above the slot. There is a buzz of excitement as I set the rope and one by one the others make their way down

Myself and Sterlo were the last to arrive at the start of pitch 2 and relieve Leo off anchor duties so that he can head down to lead the money pitch

Leo heading down Pitch 2, you may be able to make out Madie, Gibbo and Russ way down below

The roar of the falls and the spray at the start of pitch 3 was intense.

Leo heads off grinning as I reach the anchor.

Flynn, You’re up next. Says Madie

Who made her the boss?

Tingles. Nervous excitement. Stoopid grin. I rope up and head on down.

White noise.

But not what I was expecting. P3 crosses through the falls but as it has tumbled down the 100m above the water has bounced of the walls and spread out, dissipating the full force into a wide mist. And lots of wind.

Hitting the pool below I was surprised it wasn’t a torrent of flow. I make my way through the mist to once again relieve Leo at the anchor. He continues down the next drop where the other group are just setting their next anchor

Even though short, P4 was probably the trickiest. There was a bit of flow in the pool at the bottom with a wash over risk if you were not careful. Leo set a guide line to help the rest of us across.

I man the anchor and enjoy the spray and wind as the others make their way first to me and on to Leo

Russ heading down P4 on the guided abseil while I pack up the anchor in the spray ©Madie

From here down we are on the standard route though the extra water makes it seem anything but standard

We soon leap frog the other group and continue our way down

Madie disappearing into the froth
This one is optional or you can walk around and jump…
And after abseiling to the halfway ledge and jumping this beauty we haul out into the sun for lunch

So the usual exit is to continue down 45mon or so to the Kalang (Kanangra Creek and Kanangra brook) junction and then up murdering gully or manslaughter ridge. We thought we might try another option

We head up a steep rocky gully that at times blurred the line between scrambling and rock climbing

We make good time and eat the elevation but are nervous we will get cliffed out. The map wasn’t exactly inspiring. About half way up I spot a vegetated gully coming in to the side. I reckon that will go. Says I

We have a bit of a pow wow and Russ checks the map.

I think he could be right says, Russ. The side gully looks more promising on the contours than the main gully

Should we take Flynny’s gull or stay in the main one.

Whoa there! If the gully goes it can be Flynny’s gully. If it doesn’t it’s Russ’s gully. Say I

We head up the side gully.

It’s steep and loose. Think manslaughter ridge but looser with no room to traverse. Crawl up 2 steps. Slide back one. Shower your mates below with pebbles, rocks and the occasional boulder. Grab a spikey shrub or cutty grass, hope for the best

Sometime later we reach the base of the top cliff and begin to traverse around hoping that it will peter out.

Peter, peter. Pumkin eater.

But soon it appears our way is going to be barred by cliff dropping back into the gully below.

The nose always goes, sometimes.

Leo finds a weakness in the nose above us and manages to get up to drop a rope back down. Gibbo heads up. Followed by Madie.

Where’s Sterlo?

Hey there’s a gully around the corner you can walk up… Sterlo is up top. Me and Russ opt to follow him up

Flynny’s gully is renamed Craigs Crying Crack. I mean I only cried once, but whatever. It goes but it has some hair on it. it ain’t fun and we’re not sure if it saved us any time

How ’bout dem views thou

party size: 6

Time: 8hr car to car with along lunch

Remember your comfort zone is a very dangerous place to be

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3 little canyons on a Saturday afternoon, just because

19/12/2020

Izy, Ed, Dick, Madie, Leo and meeeeeeee

‘Twas the Friday before Christmas with zero plans for the Weekend

And it just kinda hit me, I must make amend

So I sent out a late invite, with little remorse

And 5 Friends replied “hell yes”, as a matter of course

We started earlier then planned ’cause Madie was bored

They piled in my ute and the accelerator was floored.

Leo tried his best to wet not even his feet

We jumped, slid and abseiled and had lots of fun

Then Madie threw mud at me, it was the end of canyon 1

Canyon 2 is a cracker, an absolute blast

but the best was to come, we saved it ’til last

The next is my favourite, I whispered to Iz

The thing is I meant it, it absolutely is

Dick left us early, he was coming back the next day

He shook hands, he hugged and went on his way

The rest of us pushed on and our excitement it grew

And we got to the slot and made our way through

We slid and we jumped, we spashed and had fun

And looked around in awe at this place where we’d come

To soon we reached the end and had to turn around

but we smiled as we cherished the joy that we found

this might be a bad poem but I bet you wish you had been us

and doubt all you want but rhyming “Iz” with “is” well… that’s just fucking genius

Party Size: 6

Times

Sheepdip: ~ 2 and a bit hrs car to car

Twister and Rocky Creek: About 3hr car to car

The best friends force you to lever yourself up

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Journey to Dick Rock

AKA: There and Back Again: Just!

14 and 15/11/2020

Leo, Madie and meeeeeeeee

Who wants to visit the Totem Pole? Asks Leo

I’m in. Dad has photos of it from Jeep trips in the late 60s early 70s, though they knew it as the Wolgan Earth Pillar, a name they got from the Luchetti’s who had the farm down Valley. They got it off Carne’s map from his early 1900s mineral survey where he recorded it in his journal as “Earth Pillar, the Pinnacle, Wolgan Valley”. Anyway it’s been on my list of things to visit for a long time.

©Pete

Of course Madie was in too.

Hey, do you want to go in from the top and check out a few canyons while we are down that way?

Some times I wonder what it would be like to have friends who hear out my hair brained ideas and say things like, That sounds ridiculous, Flynny. No way we should to that….

But noooooo. Despite several epic scrub bashes my friends keep saying things like, hell yeah lets do it.

Lucky, otherwise this blog would be rather boring.

Besides no one is going to be telling there grandkids about the epic weekend they had playing golf, right?

Well unless they win a major or sumfink.

Anyhooo

We were planning to walk out to a base camp Friday night. 3pm and it’s pissing down. None of us want to start walking in the rain but the rain parts, the radar is clear and it looks like it’s going to be a perfect night for a stroll.

Leo and Madie swing past my place to drop off Pippa the Wonderdog.

Should we take 2 cars?

There’s only 3 of us….

Maybe we should have taken 2

Driving up on dusk and the sky to the north looks like something out of an Armageddon movie.

©Madie

Rolling storm clouds and blasts of lightning heading right to where we are going. That wasn’t on the radar!

We get to an intersection. Swing right. says I. Left has a 4wd creek crossing.

When was the last time you looked? Says Leo. I got a 2wd through there last year.

While I thought they had done a bit of work to the crossing I hadn’t tried going that way since getting rid of my old FJ45 Cruiser.

We go left, much to Madie’s trepidation.

The creek crossing is up but it’s much easier than the deep rocky drop off of years gone past. We get through easy enough. Except the hill up the other side is a soft rutted mess. 1 quick go at getting up and the ute sinks to the diffs. Lucky it is very wet and Leo is able to reverse out with help of the steep terrain.

We are going back the other way! Madie puts her foot down. And I’m driving from here!!!

We take the by-pass. But halfway down a sharp log hidden on the inside of a corner rips the side wall out of her rear tyre. Pssssssssssssssss.

We get out to change the wheel. Armageddon skies open and the rain belts down. There is an issue with the jack handle which also doubles as a thingie to wind the spare tyre down. Nothing that a quick adjustment with a shifter or screwdriver to open up the slots wont fix.

Where’s your tool box.

I don’t have one….

Apparently Madie cops one of my infamous eye rolls . My kids take the piss out of me about them all the time but surprisingly this is the first one thrown Madie’s way.

Anyway, a bit of dicking around with a small multitool and a blood sacrifice and Leo has the handle working.

Tyre changed we rock into the car park and decide it’s way too late to start our walk so we set camp for the night .

  • Before you read on; Part of the joy of visiting lessor known canyon areas is not knowing what you’ll find. Sometimes its a disappointing creek bash and sometimes you get a good one. If you ever plan on exploring this area do yourself a favour and leave the rest of this post until after you come back.

Anyhoo

Saturday:

We are up before the sun and after a quick breakfast we are on the trail a little after 5.30am.

After being closed to vehicle traffic 20 years ago this trail devolved into a nightmare scrub bash, like the type of scrub even I avoid, and that’s saying something. Post fires it’s easy walking and we pick our way along the ridge line the old road use to follow for about 8km before spearing off into untracked territory.

We reach our chosen base camp around 8.30am, dump the camp gear and head off for our first canyon in good spirits.

Despite a series of complex cliff lines we find easy passes until we are directly above our drop in point

To be honest we weren’t expecting great things from canyons out this way but this one had a nice start

We hump some logs
We walk some logs
And we find a surprisingly nice bit of canyon
© Madie

After a bit the canyon opens up somewhat and then begins to drop steeply. We abseil the first drop and then I scramble down the next few to see it it’s likely to drop into a lower section. It’s pretty but the walls are getting wider and more impenetrable so we make the call to ascend back up the line and try to force a pass to the ridge and drop into another creek.

We somehow jag a straight forward pass up through multiple cliff lines. Winning!
Views over the Wolgan. You can just make out the conical peak of Tayan Pic, AKA Nipple hill, rising way out in the distance, 30km away
Again we managed to find passes down through all but the final cliff
Children of the Corn…. I mean cabbage bush or whatever the hell this is. It was easier than tea tree, hakea, and Acacia but I would be well and truly over pushing through this by the end of the weekend
But soon this creek, too, drops into a nice section of canyon.
This one had a bit of flow to it. Mostly due to the rain but partly from a dam at the end of a pool on that gave way as we passed it.
Madie
And then the water dropped down a narrow dark hole and 20m later it ran out this funky tunnel
©Madie

At about the same point we decided to scramble out of the last canyon we had a quick bit to eat. Despite covering a lot of ground so far we are still full of enthusiasm and even talk about trekking down to Dick Rock today. We must have been delusional

Cute little Boop Noodle. The only one we saw all trip

Heading down to our 3rd canyon of the day and we drop into a tributary thinking it will be an easy pass down

Turns out is had a short but nice canyon section, though we needed some creative anchor options to get us down. No slings were left behind on this trip
Into the main canyon and straight way we’re impressed. ©Madie
This bit reminded us of the River Caves
And we find ourselves in the most impressive canyon of the trip
©Madie
A nice dark, tunnel like section was well worth the effort to get here
And below that, more nice canyon

We spent longer in this one than we thought we would, definitely longer than the previous two so squeezing in Dick Rock today was out the window. Time to beat a pass up to the tops again

We get out of the canyon and through most of the cliffs easily except for one little bit that Leo scrambled up with a couple of little boosts from me at the bottom and balls the size of a medium sized car at the top.

©Madie

He dropped a rope for me and Madie to ascend. I go up to to the ledge and haul Leo’s bag then drop the rope back to Madie. She begins to ascend as I go up the ramp and begin to chimney up the last bit.

Rock! Rock! Rock! Fugg!

I’ve knocked a large rock loose and it tumbles down the chute. Luckily it misses the rope and gains enough momentum to sail out into space. Madie was 5m up the rope with nowhere to hide. The adrenaline rush was real.

But we are up and encounter our first unburnt ridge of the trip. Thick, scratchy, cutting scrub. It was a relief to finally get to a burnt bit.

It’s getting late. We have a couple of deep saddles to get past on the way to camp but Madie navigates us there easily. I have to say I was well and truly slowing down.

Night descends but we are back to the ridge we walked down on our way to the first canyon.

Then Madie lets out a whoop at the sight of the reflective stripes on my Overboard dry bag I had hung up in a tree above camp.

35km and 3 canyons in 14hrs.

We roll out the sleep mats, have a quick diner, a few laughs and then we’re in bed engulfed with satisfaction and a glorious star filled night

Sunday:

Camp Granada

A slightly more sedate wake up time, a casual breakfast and we are off a bit after 8.

Another Ridge top, another view

I’m feeling a little dehydrated from yesterday so I’m determined to drink more today. The plan is to descend a canyon, punch down to Dick Rock and then up another canyon. We knew of a couple of easy passes up ridge lines but it’s going to be a hot day so ascending up a canyon that is supposedly reversible is more appealing

But first we work our way down through the cliff lines once more. This time we manage to scramble right down into the creek

It’s pretty but never really canyons up

Ironstone Stalactites. Like the ballerina dancing on the old termite ridden stage, when the mites go up the tights come down. or sumfink
And then we have 3 or 4km of this and worse to make out way down to the main objective of our trip
Finally we made it to Dick Rock. @Madie

It’s hot in the valley we have lunch then take a higher route back which avoids some of the the scrub and short cuts the corner and we work our way up to our intended creek.

Where this morning’s “Canyon” was a pretty creek walk this wasn’t even that. The heat is oppressive and despite drinking a shit load I’m starting to struggle.

But we boulder hop and scrub bash our way high enough up to starting thinking of forcing a pass to the tops.

Thoughts of squeezing in another short canyon are out the window.

By the time we reach camp it’s around 5pm and I’m suffering camps. I’ve drank about 8l of water already today but haven’t pissed since breakfast.

We pack camp, I mix some extra electrolytes into my hydrapac bladder and we start up the hill.

I’m really struggling and a few times have to call for a rest. Much to my equal parts chagrin and relief halfway up the ridge Madie and Leo split my gear between them leaving me with minimal weight. I’m still slow but finally we reach the ridge with the old trail. We still have 8km to go but it’s going to be easier walking.

I’m making OK pace now but my stomach is dehydrated and refusing to take much in. I’m taking small sips out of my hydrapack trying to get through. The cramps are bad, the slightest miss step and something locks up. I get service on the phone and text Mandy to let her know we’re going to be late. My finger camps bad. That’s a new sensation for me.

About 4km along the fire trail we stop for a rest. I try and take a slightly bigger drink. 3 steps later I spew that up. We march on.

It’s dark.

I tune out and walk on.

200m to go calls Madie, you can do it Flynny.

All that’s between us and the car is Natural bridge. I stumble my way down. I normally wouldn’t bat an eyelid at the climb up the other side. I stop for a rest. I spew again. There is nothing in my stomach. My whole abdominals cramp and lock tight.

If that’s what period cramps feels like , girls you get even more respect from me.

Finally we get to the car.

68km walking for the weekend, mostly off track, 3 nice canyons, two disappointing creeks, and one big a tick on the bucket list.

Home at last, I spill out of the car and spew again.

He’s alive, Madie tells Mandy, but he’s got a bit of heat stroke. You may want to get him checked

A quick shower and I think I’m good for bed but Mandy suggests a trip to hospital to get checked out.

At hospital they whack me on the scales, I’m 10kg lighter than I was Friday!

They take some blood and put me on a drip. 3 bags in they send Mandy home and book me in for the night.

6 litres of fluid later, do you think you can pee now? we need to see it before we can let you out.

I feel I want to but it’s not coming out.

Well, we can always put a catheter in.

I pee.

Apparently that threat works every time.

They release me lunch time Monday.

It’s the adversity as much as the victories that makes the lasting memories.

This trip has a big dash of both.

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