Hywaida, Kristo, Ethan, Kylie, Rus, Madie and meeeeeeeeeeeeee
Who wants to do Butterbox this weekend, said I
Me, said them.
As they say in Canada (probably) Well alrighty then
A cold wind blew on the morning of our gathering.
Wait! That’s an understatement and a half
It was an icey gale that ripped through us as we met at the car park.
And it seemed like it would be whipping up through the canyon
Are we sure we want to do this?
And so it went.
We layered up and headed in.
Excitement on faces and interesting places.
Butterbox is, for the most part, more open and has less swimming than the trip we did through North Bowen 2 weeks ago. But there are more abseils which could lead to more standing around waiting. we had enough ropes to keep moving. My only concern was the small stance on the chockstone pitch might mean we have a line up of people waiting in ice wind.
Good news for us, once we dropped off the ridge there was hardly any wind at all. I had a set of sharkskin T2 chillproof underneath my 5mm seland wetsuit (* this is not a paid endorsement. but if seland or sharkskin are reading this….. 🙂 ) I had put them on at the first abseil. I’d packed a windcheater jacket but left it in my pack.
By the time we got to the first swim I was keen to cool off
A couple of short swims, a slide and we get to the bit we are here for
So at the bottom of that you go over the edge and pop out to a large rock wedged between the canyon wall, The chockstone. Well I say large, there’s room for 2 people to set up the next abseil, 3 if you don’t mind getting up close and personal. 4 if you want a group hug with little room to do anything else much less try to set rope or maneuverer to abseil.
And I just noticed Madie creeping in the background of the above photo as Kristo descends. What is she doing up there? How did she get there? How will she get down? The answers to all this and more will not be forthcoming in the next instalment of “What’s Madie up to now”
Another short swim, some boulder hoping and a final abseil and we reach the lunch spot and spread out in the sunlight. Pulling on dry clothes Rus reminisces about the time it was so stinking hot when we got here that we found some shade and snoozed for a couple of hours waiting for it to cool down enough to climb out.
Of course the Butterbox adventure isn’t over yet. There still the steep walk out to the clmb.
I put my windcheater on expecting to be in the full force of the icy zepher. Soon I stash that back in the pack and strip down to a tee shirt. It was pleasant in the valley
Up top it wasn’t until we were cross the saddle from Butterbox point back to the car park that the full force of the wind hit us. At one point I think I was leaning 45° to the right trying to resist it blowing me off the hill.
You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t loose it: R Williams
Ed, Ethan, Russ, Tash, and Meeeee but not Adrian (Cameos by Stu, Lindsey and the MadOne.)
Adrian wants to do Claustral. Anyone available?
Fugg yeah!!! Said everyone except Adrian who had some last minute family stuff pop up….
The rest of us set off at the crack of 8am. There was already a couple of groups in front of us but we’re just cruising so no wukkas
The new track work on the entry is excellently done and much needed to prevent erosion but personally I hate stairs, up or down they cane my knees… I’m happier on a scree slope. By the time we get to the bottom of the gully my legs were feeling a bit worse for wear. Not a good sign considering the relatively easy walk…
But we head down to the first climb down and suit up while the other groups make their way down, some abseil off newish looking rap rings.
Tash and Ethan opt to abseil it too which is ok by me.
We get to the main abseils just as the two guys in front of us wait for the last of the group in front of them to finish the first one.
As odd as this sounds this is the first time I’ve ever had to line up for the Blackhole. I can’t remember ever seeing too many other people in Claustral when I have been in there…. But, again we aren’t in a hurry and it’s not a bad spot to hang about
I join the guys in front waiting for the second abseil
So as we set up for the key hole I tell Tash, who hasn’t been here before, that it’s worth heading down first or second as it’s amazingly dark and makes for good photos and videos.
So I’m not sure if it’s just the time of the day but it turns out its the brightest I’ve ever seen it in there….
We are too early for sunbeams but the soft light on a misty morning is special in it’s own way
Back down to the junction and from here down it’s technically Thunder Gorge and it opens out a little before closing in for the tunnel swim
We get to the end and it’s barely midday. I’m looking forward to lunch but not the hot walk out…
But things were going to go a bit awry.
A slight mishap
A mistimed jump into the last pool and Tash comes up with with a moan.
Ethan and Russ dive in and bring her across.
She has jarred her back. Bad
We get her out of the water and onto what forever more will be named Tash’s Rock of Shame after Stu the Paramedic (actual name) coined it so.
Sure some people would like it to be call Rest Rock or Sandstone Slumber or Back support Boulder or even Dicky Deckchair but they are never going to stick
But we get ahead of our self
We get her onto Tash’s Rock of Shame and try to make her slightly less uncomfortable.
What’s your pain level?
2, if I don’t move. Says Tash
2? Says Ed. I’m a bloody 2.
1 is good. 10 is bad
Tash moans, Oh it’s 8 if I try to move.
We give her some pills to pop. They do 4/5th of freak all. She aint walking out today.
We agree to push the big red button. Which on the Inreach(TM) is actually small and grey, probably
Ethan and Russ take the inreach and head up to call the Calvary
Ed and myself go about trying to make Tash as comfortable as possible. She keeps ever so slowly slipping down the rock. We slowly drag her back up… it passes the time.
A few groups come passed and all offer help, food and water. But we reassure them we have it under control
We amuse our patient by regaling her with the tale of the Kanangra Rescue we got caught up in.
Not long after we finish that tale another group come swimming down the canyon.
Hey, calls one of them, I recognise you. You guys rescued me at Kanangra
No fucking way. It’s Timmy!
I’d never seen him before the Kanangra Incident. I’ve not seen him since.
You can’t make this shit up
But after a chat they head off too
I’m expecting the ground crew at any minute. I’m being outwardly positive but in my head I’m looking at the wind in the trees up above us and thinking the Chopper wont deploy, we are over-nighting.
Hey Flynnsticles! I have Chippies.
WTF! it’s the Mad One
What the hell are you doing here. I can’t help but smile
I heard you were in the shit and came to save you. Again. With snacks
She had got the message from Russ, met our wives at Mt Tomah and put them at ease. Then ran in with supplies to help us out. She is kinda Golden
Russ had returned with her. Ethan continued up
Ground crew was marshalling up top they say.
And then. The Chopper circles over
Now over the last few years I’ve been lucky enough to be part of some charity work for the Westpac Rescue service up north (PS I’m doing it again) and have been privileged to get to speak to some of the air crews and engineers and ask them all sort of silly questions so I know the Toll guys are up there scoping the scene and risk assessing the drop zone and I am 100% confident they wont deploy.
The Chopper comes lower.
For some perspective, the cliffs you can see rise about 40m above us. From the tops we can see the gorge widens out a little but then there is about another 100m of cliff above them. Those cliffs in turn are tucked deep in a steep ravine.
If you were up top the helicopter would be out of sight, 150m below you.
And still they come lower.
And down comes Stu the Paramedic (actual name). I do a quick hand over. He assesses the situation.
So if we lift her out do the rest of you need assistance to get out?
No we are good to walk.
What if it gets dark?
There’s plenty of light and we have head torches just in case
Good stuff. Now let’s get this girl some pan relief and get her off her Rock of Shame.
He radios up and goes about trying to jab the spikey thing into the blood carrying things. While he fills Tash will holes trying to find a vein the chopper comes back and drops Lindsey the Other Paramedic (not actual name)
The pin pricking does no good. She has been lying in the cold for a few hours so her veins arn’t exactly pumping. The friendly banter with Stu the Paramedic (actual name) reaches a crescendo when Mads asks if she can have a go at getting the needle in…. I’m pretty sure he couldn’t work out is she was serious or not
She was serious.
We are going to have to air lift her, Says Lindsey the other Paramedic (not actual name) But I’m worried about the stretcher on those trees
It’s a bit more open just down there, says I.
They send Russ down for a look.
I’m sure its a bit more open down there, says Ed.
Russ comes back. It’s a bit more open down there. Says he
Stu the Paramedic (actual name) and Lindsey the other Paramedic (not actual name) consult, go through scenarios and assess things again. We are going to have to move her, say they. It’s a bit more open down there
It wasn’t that much more open but it worked.
Let me say this. When the excrement hits the rotating cooling device in the mountains The Toll Rescue Helicopter crews are the best in the business
We split Lindsey the other Paramedic’s (not actual name) gear between us and suggest while waiting for the chopper to return we could get him up to a more open spot for a pick up. Just as we head up the exit the wirlybird comes back…..
it’s just after 7pm as we reach the cars. Mandy is waiting for us with extra food. it was most welcome
The rescue crews have packed up and left. They had started walking in but got the coms from the air crew that things were under control.
Massive thanks to all the crews who responded and massive shout out to the chopper pilot. I honestly had myself psyked up for an over night stay.
And once again to the cool, level heads of my crew. no panic, no bullshit everyone knew what needed to be done communicated well and just got on with it.
PS Tash is back on her feet a bit stiff and sore but recovering, and hopefully planning her next outing.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
And then it’s back up the hill to the car before it pisses down.
Whadda ya doing this arv? Wanna Canyon after work? Says Madie
This is becoming a habit. I kinda like it.
Should we invite others? say I
Yeah, I miss people
A flurry of last minute invites were sent out. Sadly no one was available for an early Tuesday afternoon adventure with zero notice. Go figure
Madie and Leo arrive at the car park and after I field some work calls it’s about 4pm as we make a dash down into the canyon.
We were traveling lightish and fastish (For me) and my camera is playing up so not many photos were taken.
Some giggles, banter and poking fun later we are through the canyon and me and Mads start up the hill while Leo pulls the rope on the last abseil. He still well and truly beats us to the climb and ascends up ready to belay us
Up I go and start up the next bit while he belays Madie up.
I get almost to where it starts flattening out when he jogs past, Come on Flynny.
I have a bit of a jog. Legs are cramping. I walk for a bit. Looking back Madie is jogging and gaining on me fast. Leo is heading up the last little hill to the car park. I try to jog again. Stubborn or determined or sumfink
Back at the cars we laugh as we change into dry clothes.
Hey, Russ and Libby are going to do Juggler!
We should join them…
We drive around to meet them and then head off into Juggler at a slightly more relaxed pace.
And we reach the end and walk out in the darkening twilight
Party size: Butterbox, 3 Juggler, 5
Time: Is irrelevant when you are hanging out with awesome friends or Butterbox 1hr 45 Juggler 1hr 35
Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving: Terry Pratchett
I often browse websites, blogs, trip reports and photos looking for inspiration and in doing so years ago I stumbled across a name of a canyon I’d not heard of before. My interest was pipped. More research revealed nothing but another name of a second canyon close by.
After some assumptions, deductions, guess-work and staring at satellite imagery I mark 2 points on the map with question marks. But at the time I didn’t have a group I thought would be willing to go in search of a probably low quality canyon through thick scrub just for the hell off it. And, well life got in the road And that was the end of that.
But the other week I pulled out my old map and those 2 question marks burned into me. I put out a call to see who’d be keen on an exploration trip that would probably involve a wet canyon but probably not stunning or wow material.
To my surprise the above mentioned folk said yes and so we found ourselves parked on a seemingly random bit of otherwise highly trafficked firetrail and we headed off into the untracked scrub.
Only then we stumbled over an old vehicle track that was heading right where I’d marked would be the most likely easy way to enter the creek.
The track stopped at a rock outcrop and while there was no obvious path down it was an easy scramble into the creek. Surprisingly there was a footpad of sorts along the creek edge. OK this must get more visitors than I thought.
I was pretty sure I was looking at a small Wollemi Pine. But this isn’t where they were suppose to be. I fire off a few photos to compare images later on but I convince myself it was something else.
What going on? says they
I thought that was a Wollemi pine. say I
The plaque says it is a wollemi pine.
OK I missed that. It seems it was planted in 2008 as a memorial to two people who enjoyed the area. OK that explains that.
From here the faint track disappears and is replaced by not so faint scrub.
At some point the conversation turns to buggery and bestiality. WTF? the weird conversations you have in the bush. Those who recognise where we are may get the reference.
Anyhoo Chardi, who missed the memo that it was going to be a wet trip until Tim picked him up and asked if he had his wetsuit packed, is not impressed with the scrub so far. He makes comment on our 6 dope trip and threatens to wipe me off his list if things don’t improve dramatically
Luckily we round a bend and are greeted by a drop into a heavenly looking pool. Well it would be heavenly looking if it was 28° summer day instead of at 14° mid spring day…
How’s the water?
Bathy and only knee deep, or sumfink…
What follows is a delightful little Sheep Dip style of canyon with lots of slides
Chardi forgives me for the scrub on the way in.
And in-between were some surprisingly nice bits of canyon. Not mind=blowing wow but nice
And after another little drop we find a spot in the sun to warm up and have a bit of morning tea. There are signs that this spot is more visited. I point out there is a popular walk in the area and this bit could be visited from the bottom up before the waterfall stopped you.
We continue down a track of sorts but now I’m looking for a pass out to try to link up with the other possible canyon. I’m starting to think there wont be one when a steep gully appears that looks like it might go.
Tim and Gabby follow Madie up a steep bit of scrub out of the creek. Chardi and Marchelle follow me a few meters down stream where I think looks to be an easier ramp.
I scramble up a steep rock using a small sapling as a hold and reach out with my other hand to grab a reasonable size tree root.
That’s not a tree root. Tigersnake! Big one. Now I’m generally pretty good around snakes so I slowly stand and be as non-threatening as I can be. Old mate has flattened out but on a cool spring day I doubt he is going to waste energy on me if I don’t threaten him. I slowly reach for my camera. The bugger stands up and comes straight at me. I jump back off the rock.
Did I mention the rock was steep. so now it’s on top of the rock where I was just standing and I’m at the bottom of the rock which pretty much puts us eye to eye about a foot and a half away from each other.
It comes at me again. Shit!
Ok so snakey people know that Tigersnakes put on pretty good threat displays but unless you try and pick one up or step on it they’ll often do a bit of bluff where they launch a closed mouth headbutt to scare you off. This one had it’s mouth closed. I highly doubt it was looking to bite but when it’s coming at your face all that goes out the window. I launch myself backwards down the hill.
Chardi is wondering what the hell is going on, surely I didn’t fall of that bit of rock, did I break and handhold or…. Oh Snake.
I stumble in the loose rocks and fallen branches, I’ve put a good couple of meters between us but I look up and it’s still coming at me. I’m all tangled up on the ground and have nowhere to go. Shit Shit! Shit! I’m f#$ked.
It gets to within about a meter and veers off. Shit!
Marchelle cottons on to whats happening. The Snake coils around. Takes another good look at us, sees there is now 3 big things not just 1 and takes off into the undergrowth directly towards the other group.
Watch out! Angry Tigersnake coming across towards you.
They all take it nice and calmly and continue up the hill. I compose myself and do likewise.
Later, back at the cars Chardi brings up the snake encounter.
What? Where? Oh wow we thought you called out you couldn’t continue up where you were and were coming across toward us. Then we wondered why you didn’t
No wonder they were so calm about it.
But we get ahead of ourselves. For now we continue up and reach the top of the gully only to be blocked by a small overhang and the last little bit of the cliff. Using Chardi as a ladder a scramble up the overhang and the dirty, not quiet vertical scree and set a rope. I call,Rope below .
Don’t bother there is an easy pass up to the side.
Now they tell me.
Once through the cliffs it was an easy stroll through fairly open scrub down into the next gully along until we are stopped by a reasonable sized cliffline. We had plenty of ropes but as they say in the Bluies “The nose always goes! Sometimes.” Just up-stream on a bend I see a steep nose that looks like it would indeed go.
The scrub to get there was horrid but it gave us a way down. It was steep and slippery and at one stage Gabby slipped bounced into me and like a snooker ball I shot off down the next bit. Then again she slipped and landed on me…. Well she says she slipped but I’m taking it as a compliment or sumfink.
Anyhoo we reach the creek. The dry, dirty creek filled with razor grass and dead fern fonds and choss and disappointment.
We fight our way down stream. Chardi revokes his forgiveness and when we are sure this isn’t going to be a canyon suggested the creek be renamed Flynny’s Folly.
And then a trickle of water. Then a rocky bottom. And then, out of nowhere
I didn’t think the previous creek was as cold as I expected. This one seemed to make up for it.
At one point we drop into a pot hole to find the other side to be rimmed with a 2 meter high wall (Water must flow underneath but the passage was silted up with sand. I scramble up. The wall is about a foot wide and drops straight back down into a pool on the other side. I help Gabby up and then use her pack to lower her down until her feet touch the water and drop her.
I must admit I didn’t really pay attention to her landing. I help Tim up. Just slide down the wall and land soft it’s only about waist deep. says I.
Tim slides and disappears under the water. OK chin deep….
But just around the corner it opens up into a glorious amphitheatre and we warm ourselves in the sun thinking that’s it. But just just down stream
One more short swim through the darkest and prettiest bit of canyon so far on the trip
And then the gully opens out.
Near by was far more popular canyon and while we were in the area we thought why not
And then it’s up the hill and back to the car.
Party size: 6 all experienced
Timing: 6hrs car to car
Life is more enjoyable and less oppressive with some mountain air, a little adventure and just the right company