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
A quick run through Empress with Russ and Libby then a slow trip into the Grand at night with Russ, Mark, Ethan, Jamie, Marc and Ariadna.
I can’t believe it’s February and this is my first canyon trip for the year.
Mark invited us out on a night trip through The Grand Canyon so to make a bit of an afternoon of it Myself, Libby and Russ decided to hit the only other canyon in the Bluies that is officially open, Empress, beforehand.
It was a stinking hot day and I get a message, “Car park is full. Russ parked like a dick so we could save you a space. k.”
They straighten up and I pull in next to Russ and do the meet and greet.
Did I say it was hot? We quickly make our way down and enter the refreshing coolness of the canyon.
No surprises we weren’t the only ones to have this idea today… We’d passed a couple gearing up at the entrance and come across a group at the little jump just after the matrix jump.
Want to go through? They offer
If you don’t mind, say I. But we’re not in a hurry.
Oh come through we are just practising.
They’d set the drop up as an abseil with a very awkward start.
We jump on past
We climb up on to the ledge to wait our turn. Only to learn later earlier in the day some dirty grub decided that was where they really needed to drop a turd. Lucky some guides saw it take place. Chastised old mate and cleaned things up
A group just in front said they waited inline for an hour…. It’s a 20min canyon…. Luckily the crowd had thinned a bit and about 20min later we set up on the left and dropped on down.
Luckily it had cooled down slightly for the walkout but we were still hot by the top. So After chatting with a few people we head to the servo for a frozen coke. Except their frozen Beverages machine wasn’t frozen…
Here we say bye to the Libster and head around to Evans Lookout to check out the views over the Grose
Anyhoo, We are soon met by Mark and Jamie, followed by Ethan and then Marc and Ariadna and spend some time chatting and waiting for darkness before doing a car shuffle back to the entrance track and heading on in
Once again we aren’t the only ones and there is a couple dropping in as we reach the abseil point. We Phaff about to give them time to have the canyon in peace
Once in we spend a fair bit of time just soaking in the ambience
Making our way down there is a constant feeling of awe as we stop often and for long periods just to sit in the darkness and admire the glow
I fall behind a little taking photos. When I catch up they have stopped in one of the more spectacular chambers. Mark, Ethan and Jamie sit quietly talking on one side of the canyon. I set up some photos then sit talking to the Spaniards on a ledge on the other side.
I have no idea how long we stayed there, certainly longer than I normally like to sit still, but I figure its such a beautiful night and atmospheric situation that everyone is just blissing out
Some time later I hear. Do you think we should go back and look for them?
Russ turns on his light. Oh there you are. We thought you were still back there taking photos.
The two groups were about 4m apart from each other 🙂
We though you guys we just enjoying the stillness
We have a bit of a laugh and continue on our way
And then we continue down to do the loop out to Evans lookout. I haven’t been out this way for nearly 20years. The impacts of the fires are more noticeable beyond the canyon proper. What was more disappoint was a wall completely covered in new graffiti, If scrawling your name can be call graffiti. I don’t get it.
Anyhoo. We slog back up to the lookout and stare out into the darkness. The stars are out. An orange glow to the south east reminds us the fires have finished with us yet.
Back at the cars we say good bye to the others and wait for Libby to come back to pick up Russ. She brings beer and Cherry the dog. I like Libby.
Another two emerge from the track followed shortly thereafter by 2 more we say hi but in the darkness don’t take much notice. Towards the end of the beer Russ looks up and says, Is that Kylie?
The same friend of theirs we’d been chatting too at the end of Empress.
It had been a great evening with truly awesome people but its time to go home.
To paraphrase Winston Churchill: We are all worms, but I do believe some of us are glow-worms
Empress: A bit over 2hrs with a long wait for the abseil
Grand: About 4 hours with lots of just sitting in the dark.
When evening closes nature’s eye, the glowworm lights her little spark, to captivate her favourite fly and tempt the rover in the dark: James Mongomery
Last time I did the Empress Falls/Grand canyon double, Empress was still better known as Valley of the Waters canyon. We were still amazed that civilisation hadn’t been wiped out by the Y2K bug. The Euro was still brand new. NASAs Mars Odyssey was mapping the red planet and Queen Lizzy was pomping about for her Golden Jubilee…
So when Gaz and Jodie said they were keen to ease back into it I thought why not.
Being anti social, disliking crowds and line ups I like doing Empress early morning or very late afternoon. The light frost on the windscreen when Gaz came to pick me up may have indicated we needn’t have worried too much about that but, anyhoo, we went early and had the place to ourselves .
When Gaz announced he and Jodie had brought 2 sets of wetsuits, spring suits of Empress and Steamers for Grand, it was one of those Why-have-I-never-thought-of-that moments. I mean I had been contemplated doing Empress in with just a thermal top. I had a spring suit hanging in my cupboard…
You Eeeejit Flynny!
Too bad they gave me that epiphany after we left, But anyway.
A quick 15min hike up the tourist track and we are back at the car putting dry clothes on for the drive back to Blackheath.
While we pretty much had Empress to ourselves we struggled to get a spot at the Neates glen car park and a steady stream of walkers filed up and down the track.
Despite plenty of walkers up top we had the depths to ourselves
Unfortunately the early start in Empress meant we were in Grand in the harshest mid-day light so the photos are no where near as good as previous trips.
Party size 3: all experienced
Time: Empress 1hr 40min car to car Grand 3hr Car to car
Look deep into nature, then you will understand everything better:- Albert Einstein
*Slight detour* in March I am again taking part in the West Cycles Classic to raise money for the Westpac rescue helicopter service. Whether preforming bush rescue, emergency patient transfers, and all the rest no one has ever had to pay to use the helicopter due to public donations. If, like me, you believe this is an invaluable service or if you just enjoy reading my blog think about pitching in with a donation. Large or small every bit counts. follow this link for details 2018 West Cycles
I mentioned to the gang I wanted to do Grand at night this year. At some stage me and Ed discussed doing it the Australia day weekend but as he is a new dad I doubted he’d get the leave pass and so I promptly forgot about it.
Then I get a text, Are you doing the Grand Canyon trip tomorrow night? Ethan is keen
I had completely blanked it from my mind. Had no intention of doing it. I thought Ed must have known someone else doing it….
Now I’m keen thou.
A quick text to Mandy and Tal. Tal was a nope. Mandy was keen with a slightly earlier start. We’re in. Then Mandy had to pull out last minute.
Me and Ethan it is.
With dry lightning strikes causing havoc and starting bushfires in a lot of the canyoning belt I was keeping a close eye on both the weather and the Rural Fire Service updates, as well as NP closures but unlike the rest of the canyoning areas Blackheath got a bit of rain out of Thursday’s storm (10mm) and so it was damp and misty in the valley.
We dropped into the canyon around 6:30pm. Thinking by the time we phaff about with photos things would get dark about halfway through
Um, we are at the last swim…. Depsite the photo phaffing we seem to have come through super quick. We breifly contemplated following the track back to the start and doing it all again but chose the better idea staying in the canyon, reversing it back to the start and coming down again in darkness. Excellent idea Smithers
To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders. Lao Tzu