Arethusa

30-11-2019

Dirt Girl, Bad-arse Barbie, Shreevy, Dare Devil, Monners, The Wizard, Sketchy Maddog and meeee

Bad-arse Barbie mentioned she needed a bit of support to get back on the horse after last weekend’s incident so in a funny sort of round about way me and the Mad One pretty much invited ourselves, and later The Wizard, on to the trip she was doing with Dirt Girl. Belatedly we worked out it was originally suppose to be a girls trip….

Anyhoo,

It had been awhile since I’d seen some of this crew and it was the first time meeting Sheervy and Monners in real life so we do a meet and greet and I notice every one had the packs out ready to go.

Um, we still need to drive down a bit to the car park…..

The Crew

At the carpark we wake some campers with our not so quiet banter and then make our way along the trail

Last couple of times I’ve followed the trail down a bit far east and had to traverse back through scrub. This time I make more or less a bee line down the ridge. Through the scrub

Sketchy Maddog starts to “question” my navigation. It’s just down there. Says I. pointing to a big tree down the ridge

I think it’s over there. Says she. You’re shit navigator. It’s over that way

I’m pretty sure it’s just there. Say I

Oh shit, I can see the sling on the tree. Says she pointing to the very same tree I pointed to earlier.

1 point: Flynny

Two crazy souls right there. Sketchy Maddog took control of setting the abseils for the day. 1 point: Sketchy Maddog

We gain the creek and boulder hop down to the start of the canyon and one of the coolest abseils in the Blue Mountains.

Explaining the system. The rope goes through the thing and then you do a thing with the things so that when things happens you can do things and it keeps ya mate safe. Simplz ©Shreevy
Stunning shot by ©Madie. How good are phone cameras these days.

Even in this dry spell it didn’t disappoint

Click to enbiggen

The gang

Click to make large

It’s a great little canyon ©Madie

Click for the sake of clicking

Team work makes the Dream work

We’ve gotten through the canyon fairly quick without ever feeling like we were rushing. So we have an early lunch and chill out in the sun

Just around the corner is a magnificent view ©Madie

The traditional exit was to continue down, then traverse the Carne Wall, then get benighted. then cry a bit, then swear you’d never ever, ever do it again.

A climbing exit now makes Arethusa one of the most funnest, adventurous little canyons in the mountains. Not to mention how pretty it is.

But you need to have reasonable climbing skills

There are 3 proper climbing pitches, that are a little run out on lead, and several scrambles and hand over hands
Madie lead all of them. 3 Points Sketchy

And as luck would have it a cool breeze greets us for the walk out

Champion crew ©Shreevy

Party size: 8 all experienced

Time: 6.5hr car to car

I have a simple philosophy: Fill what’s empty. Empty what’s full. And scratch where it itches.Alice Roosevelt Longworth

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Deep Pass

1/09/2019

Mandy and Meeeee

We thought we’d make the most of the pleasant first day of spring weather with a little jaunt down to Deep Pass AKA Gawaymbanha Ngurambenggu

Working your way up from the bottom this is the first pool you encounter.

Mandy at the base of the water fall. Its a great place to hang out on a hot summers day. WOuld the allure drag me in? I’ve been coming here since the 80s and that’s the least amount of water I’ve seen trickling over the falls. It doesn’t bode well for summer
The narrow bit. For as long as people can remember log have been tied across this narrow section to allow you to get across without getting wet.
It’s not exactly the prettiest and considering the water is only waist deep…

More rope to help stay dry. Where it crosses around the corner is the only spot where you have to get your feet wet
One the way back down I couldn’t help myself. Even in the height of summer I reckon the water at deep pass is some f the coldest I’ve swum in. Today was no different.

After a quick bite to eat in the warm sun at the camp ground we poke around some of our other hidden gems

There are various pieces of rock art around the site. A lot of it is genuine

There are little nooks and crannies and dry slots scattered around the cliffs
Split rock is pretty amazing. This narrow hall branches off at right angles from another hall that is only slightly less narrow
Mandy at the bottom of Split Rock

“If you don’t turn your life into a story, you just become a part of someone else’s story.” 
― Terry Pratchett,

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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

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Upper Wollangambe

23/24-02-19

This section of the ‘Gambe is harder to get to than the more common “tourist sections” but is renown for having some of the best canyon bits on the river.

In hindsight that’s a bit like saying Wang Dam has the best bits of beach in Lithgow….

Or sumfink

Anyhoo, it’s a bit of the ‘Gambe I hadn’t visited before and I had wanted to do it for a while. I knew Madie was keen to check it out too so we semi organised a crew and then half made plans.

Then the weather turned to shite and we ummed and ahhed about going. Even an hour before we were due to head off the rain came in and we discussed doing something else. Then the sky cleared and we thought “Fugg it!” and off we went

I’d planned to do the car shuffle to the end of the Dumbano/Wollangambe fire trail as it should be a shorter walk and I’m not overly familiar with the maze of trails in from Bell.

In high spirits we skipped out to the end of the fire trail and had no difficulty finding a pass down through the cliff.

From there it all turned a bit shit.

My intel said there would be a track.

Reality said there was scrub.

Now I’m not adverse to a bit of a scrub-bash but this scrub was heinous. Razor grass and dead fall and despondency.

Out of the scrubby side-creek and into the scrubby Gambe our efforts to stay dry before the camp were in vain

An hour later we’d barely gone 600m and light was fading. I wasn’t 100% sure where the famed camp cave was so we made the decision to bunk down in the next viable overhang to shelter from the predicted overnight moisture.

Finding a small but sheltered and some what cozy overhang we opted to make camp rather than push on in the dark

We snacked on Madie’s infamous butter chicken and settled in for a reasonably comfortable if slightly cramped and sleepless night.

Of course the actual camp cave with large, flat sandy floor was just 100m or so down stream…

Morning comes and we pack up for a not so early start. Our advice was it was going to be a long/hard day. After yesterdays experience in the scrub we decided to avoid the banks and stay in the river as much as possible.

This was faster. Mostly. But full of energy sapping sand with pockets of quicksand ready to swallow your leg without warning.

The three images above summarise the tip for me. Stunning cliff lines, dead fall galore and complex boulder scrambling. Oh and sand. Lots of sand….

Did I mention stunning cliff lines?
There were fun bits in between the slogs
thou I think Gabby would be smiling no matter what
The canyon sections, when they came were spectacular. Just very short compared to the effort to get to them

Even thou the canyon is impressive here I’d class the trip more a creek walking than canyoning trip

Eventually we make it to a part of the ‘Gambe we are all familiar with.

Reaching the exit point is usually a bitter-sweet moment as you are glad to have finally made it but know the adventure is nearly over. This was no different. We were exhausted (We’ll maybe not Madie, she seems to gain engery the longer she goes) but smiling. It was a hard trip, even tougher than I had expected, but as always the company and laughter made it great.

Now just the 1hr uphill stroll to the car.

Your comfort zone is a very dangerous place to be

Times: 

Mt Wilson fire-shed to Dumbano fire trail locked gate: 30min (drive)

Locked gate to camp: 1.5hrs

Camp to Exit: 7hr

Exit to Fire Shed: 1hr

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