Pipeline Canyon

30-01-2016

Edwin, Tallis and me.

So the plan was to do Whungee Wheengee with Edwin and Tallis, and to be honest I was really looking forward to it but after a wet week a big storm hit the ‘Go Friday afternoon and water was running out of the ground behind my place, which I hadn’t seen before. Severe storm warning were issue for Saturday afternoon so we decided to err of the side of caution and change plans.

I wasn’t overly concerned with getting through Whungee itself but was worried if a big storm hit as we were exiting down the Wollengambe it might get a little too exciting.

With that in mind we thought one of the Wolgan Valley canyons may be a better option with smaller catchments and shorter trips and settled on one none of us had done before, Pipeline Canyon. News of a dead roo stinking out Whungee Wheengee helped ease the decision.

Of course late Friday night listening to the sound of rain on the roof I came across Monika’s report of her group getting hit with a flash flood and spending a night tethered to a log high in Pipeline as the furious water churned below them back in 2011. Hmmmm…

Weather looked up somewhat in the morning, with the steady rain now sunshine and the storm not due in ’til later in the afternoon so off we went.

The Wolgan Valley is one of my most favourest places in the hole wide world and we got to the camp ground around 9am. Another plus for Pipeline, got to sleep in a bit.

The good thing about canyoning in the Wolgan is you do the big uphill first, the counter to that is the big uphill is big and as we ascended the pipeline trail I kept thinking ‘Steep bit is at the top. Steep bit is at the top. this isn’t even steep yet…’

It’s very humid and I’m soaked with sweat before we’re even halfway up. At least the sweat washes the last of the effects of the stinging nettles off my legs (There is lots of nettle down on the flat this side of the river down stream of the camp ground but it’s not too bad. More of a slight annoyance nettle really)

p1

I’d have to say I’m in awe of the guys who built the pipeline from Glendavis shale works over to the train line in Newnes. It must have been back breaking work for a venture that didn’t last that long. I seem to recall more pipes and structures in situ last time. Looks like most have been removed which is a bit surprising since it has some heritage value.

I believe some people do (Or use to, there is some issues with private land on the GlenDavis side stopping people now) walk the pipeline track from Newnes to Glendavis  and back just for the fun of it…

It does have great views at the top though.

p2

It was about as I got to this vantage point when I was sure I could hear other people. Then a shirtless bloke popped up from behind the next pagoda and popped straight back down again and everything went quiet. I say shirtless but I only saw from chest up. We decided not to go right out to the point.

Last time I was up this way it was to do the Amazing Wallaby tunnel/StarLight/Newnes canyon early on in our first canyoning craze. I’ve done Star Light many times since but always reversing up from the bottom rather than the round trip.

I still remember walking along the saddle in between Newnes and Glendavis looking for a shed, or the relic some sort of pumping station. The notes said head off right at the shed. We were standing around the map and I was sure we were at the spot we needed to turn off but no shed was in site. Then it dawned on us “Water shed” was the spot where if rain fell< this side the water would run into the Capertee. or this side >And it would run into the Wolgan.

Oh, watershed…

Anyhoo we get to a place where an obvious trail heads off to the right. This leads to a tributary that bypasses the upper section of Pipeline. The upper section is suppose to be a dry walk through and apparently most people skip it but we were unanimous. Be damned if we’re walking up that hill for half a canyon and leave a whole section we’d not visit.

We continue to the watershed (It’s not like a garden shed, silly) and head out along the Starlight trail. We think we see an obvious scramble down the hill heading in vaguely the right direction and follow it down. We find our slot but were too far down stream.

p3

We take a bearing and decide to skirt along the edge of the hill instead of returning the way we come down. It starts nice. There is always an easier pass through the scrub, says Edwin. Or words to that effect. Silly Edwin. Almost straight after he utters those words it gets scrubbier and scrubbier.

We can see the ridge not far above and head up to intercept the main trail again. If the turn off to Pipeline is obvious we missed it but are confident we are heading in the right direction to get into the headwaters of our canyon. We slip down a gully. Edwin makes friends with a little black snack.

When I say little it was a good meter long and solidly built. By the time I get there we can only see his tail.

 

p4
Whitey the Redbelly black snake is in there if you look hard enough you may see him.

The gully was getting really scrubby. I was sure we weren’t the only ones to come this way as some sections looked to have had feet over it, sure that may have been wombat feet. Then Edwin spies an old abseil glove on the ground. Right in front of an 7m drop that’s not in the guide and has no obvious belay points.

Meh. If its the wrong slot we’re just going to do Devils Pinch canyon. Says I. But we are 100% confident we’re in the right vicinity and so skirt around the cliff edge to the right and find a smaller drop that could just be done with a hand over hand on my 10m cord.

The walls close in. I’ve seen this view before. Mighty coachwood trees stretching skyward in the narrow canyon. It’s Pipeline I’ve seen photos of  this section on Dave’s site.

Still no idea where the usual entry point for this section is but we made it.

This first section of canyon is stunning. It really is.

p9
Tal in the top section
p11.jpg
And then, from above a beam of light illuminated Edwin and he was struck with wonder and awe. Or sumfink

That soon opened up and into a more open forested gorge.

p12

It was easy going and we were wondering why anyone would bother missing the top section… then the gorge began to close and there was a section of picking through lots of fallen deadwood and boulder hopping. It was slow going and energy sapping at times.

We hadn’t really stopped to eat. We were mindful that with our scrub bashing we’d taken more time to get to the start then originally planned. Above I could see some dark clouds rolling in. When Edwin commented on it I knew I wasn’t the only one keeping an eye on the sky through the gaps in the canyon walls. But so far there looked to be plenty of spots to seek higher ground or scramble out if needed.

By the time we reached the lower constriction the dark clouds had seemed to cleared without so much as a drop. Some tricky down climbs into water so clear it looked far shallower than it was had us all soaking wet but the water temp was very pleasant and we chose to leave the wet suits in the bags. Of course this meant we lugged around wet wetsuits all day for no reason what so ever.

Another quick check of the skies and a look around for accessible high ledges and we headed in.

The lower section is lush and green. It’s deep in places but at this time of the day plenty of sun light managed to find its way into the canyon floor.

There are several abseils. All of them have tricky starts, overhung, slippery, wrong angles or down a log with the belay tape below your feet… That full length wetsuit in my bag would make this hurt less as my knee slides down it, Thinks I and says Tal, The kid’s a mind reader even if he doesn’t say much.

But it was a good challenge and very pretty but we pushed through fairly quickly still mindful of the predicted “Severe” storms.

We had decided to take my 50m rope which was plenty long enough. My theory being to save Edwin from carrying his 60m on his dodgy ankle. In hindsight Ed’s 60m 9mm dry rope would have been far lighter and less bulky than my 50m 11m standard rope. Live and learn.

We could see the canyon open out just ahead but not before a final abseil or two.

p17

We find ourselves nestled under the upper cliff line of the Wolgan. It was a good spot for lunch and I’m kind of famished by now.

We tuck in taking a few more photos of the break in the cliff line we had descended. The light made it difficult to get anything good with the iphone so you’ll have to check out the vid for a reasonable look at it.

The path out was much more defined than anything we saw on the way in, confirming most people come in on the side creek. We’re still a long way above the Wolgan. The Valley here is narrow the opposing clifflines don’t seem much more the 3 or 4 hungy metres away.

Our path takes us on a precarious route across the “Halfway ledge” between the upper and lower cliff line. At times it a nice easy path. Other times it seemed little more than a slightly less vertical, slightly less solid break in one continuous cliff face but pretty soon we are back at the pipeline track just below it’s final steep push up toward the top. It was about this time we first heard the ominous rumble of sky farts. Out just in the nick of time it would appear.

We scamper down the pipeline trail, reveling the the joy of heading down instead of up at the end of a canyon trip.

Just before the base of the pipeline trail the sky opened. A gentle shower at first but along with the thunder it soon got heavier. I stop for some photos and Tal and Ed power on. It’s not cold and the rain is actual very refreshing. It was a very pleasant if damp walk back along the river trail to the car and I’m enjoying being tail end charlie.

p25

Pipeline in a gorgeous canyon. Well worth a look. Driving out we can see 3 distinct storm fronts chasing each over over the plateau to the north. They don’t seem to have dumped the fury on the plateau. The storm we did get was nowhere near as “severe” as predicted but I’m happy enough to have played it safe

 

Party Size: 3

Time: 6hr car to car with a lot of faffing about to find the start.

Advertisements

Hat Hill Canyon

I’ve heard a lot about Hat Hill canyon, though back in the day it was Blackheath’s sewage outlet which had always put me off doing it. But in 2008 Mt Vic and Blackheath became the last 2 Blue mtns towns to benefit from treatment plant upgrades to hook them into the main line to take their flushing elsewhere and it has been recovering ever since.

So with me and Tal keen to do something and Mandy regretting pulling out of the Empress/Fortress trip we thought it about time we checked it out. Rob and Judy decided to come along too.

DCIM166GOPRO
DCIM166GOPRO

 

The weather wasn’t the best. Big storms has rolled through Thursday and Friday afternoon dumping a metric shiteload of water from the sky. Is it safe after all this rain, asks Rob.

Don’t know, says I. Never done it but it looks like a short walk in so we can play it by ear. If it looks nasty at least we’ll have a nice walk there and back.

Weather forecast for midday storms had us decide to delay til Sunday.

Sunday was drizzly but no storms on the radar. Weather got worse as we headed up Mt vic and into the low lying cloud that mountain folk like to refer to as Mountain Mist. To everyone else it’s fog but let’s not ruin the romance.

Temps were ideal for a walk.

We got to the car park at around 9:30 and there were several cars there. It also services a climbing crag so it was still unsure whether we were the only ones silly enough to be heading down the slot in this weather.

The walk in was short an uneventful. The track is vague in places which surprised me a little. Hat Hill is very close to town and all reports were that it was a very pretty canyon with no abseils so I expected it to be more traveled.

Reaching the creek the water levels didn’t seem overly high so we suited up and continued down.

The creek soon disappeared down an awesome looking hole which signaled the downclimb into the first section. Mandy had read this would be very difficult in high water but, again the water level wasn’t that bad so we bit the bullet and scrambled in.

h7
Tal looking down the hole that starts the first canyon section

OK so every one raves about the lower of the 3 constrictions but I have to say the top 2 sections, thou short, were very nice. If the first section was 3 times longer it would be the pick and I think I enjoyed the 2nd section more than the 3rd. That may have been due to water being up a bit.

h5
Mandy and Judy scrambling into the second section

Elephant in the room time? The water quality post sewer rerouting… Today the water had a bit of a brownish tinge which may just have been due to the excess rain run off down a gully that was still fire affected from the 2013 blaze but every now and again it was a little hydrogen sulfide pongy. I think the thought that it still might get a bit of over flow from the plant put Judy off a little, certainly had me ensuring I had my mouth closed on the swims. Rob, who has a background in water treatment said the  really bright (yet somehow darker) green moss sometimes seen on semisubmerged rocks was typical of that found in “high nutrient” streams and the side streams trickling in certainly seemed a lot clearer……

On the plus side I think its on par with Bowen Crk for lush greenness.

Second section soon arrived with an easy scramble down into the constriction. As I said this was probably my favourite bit. Don’t get me wrong the lower constriction is very pretty, deeper and longer but for some reason the top two just seemed to have a bit more WOW going in. its a pity they are not end to end.

A bit of creek walking followed and I slipped up the big left hand tributary for a bit of a look while waiting for the girls to catch up. Quiet interesting.

Further down we spotted our exit gully and continued past it to the 3rd section.

h13

It was about this stage that I realised that the snack pack I put in Mandy’s bag hadn’t made it into the dry bags… At least the muesli bars should be ok in their wrappers.

The third section is deep and more sustained. The several pretty waterfalls trickled down the towering canyon walls. It’s nice for a non-abseil canyon but I think Tal was a little disappointed in the lack of jumps and technical stuff and I have to say I was a little too.

h17

The 3rd section opened out and we grabbed a bite to eat. While the girls chilled out us manly-men slipped around the corner and up the tributary to the right which is highly recommended.

A short way up you are stopped by an waterfall running down through a double archway. It’s almost a triple arch as higher up the creek runs under a chock stone then down through a large hole and in though a smaller hole. It is really pretty.

h18
The double arch which I’ve described as really pretty but have just noticed in this photo the hole looks a bit like a toilet graffiti cock and balls…
h20
This angle makes the higher chock stone give the triple arch effect

From there it was a matter of retracing our steps up through the lower constriction to the exit gully

h11
Traditional yabby shot. Not sure how Tal mustered the courage to pick this monster up

Once again we hadn’t encountered any one in the canyon, though there were fresh foot prints in front of us on the sandy beaches. The exit gully was obvious though the trail out once you neared the top wasn’t and we lost it a few times. No dramas as you just head to the top of the ridge and eventually we interested the main trail that runs out to the end of the ridge.

Once again we had ascended into the “Mountain mist” but, despite not getting the views, it was a pleasant stroll back to the rd and hence back to the car.

 

walking along the road we were past by a convoy of rescue teams going out and some coming in. Unfortunately they seem to have spent their day out looking, without luck, for someone suspected of jumping off the end of Perry’s lookdown. With a few more days of wet predicted I hope they all stay safe and find their man.

Party size: 5 very slow moving 😉

Time: bit over 5 hrs car to car

 

Empress and Fortress Canyons 10-01-16

I thought every one else was out of action, Garry  busy studying, Meggs saving himself for a moto trip, Edwin away, so I suggested to Tal we do a little trip through Empress/Valley of the Waters canyon and then have a look at Fortress Canyon

Back when Mandy and I were first into canyoning we had avoided the popular ones up the mountains. We did do Empress (and Grand) but causally dismissed them and others as nice but too touresty.

When the kids came along Mandy stopped canyoning and so I did a bit of guide work just to keep getting out there.

Easy access meant Empress and Grand canyons were the mainstay beginner trips. You’d teach a group to abseil then do either or both. I did them many times and in doing so they lost a bit of appeal. Last year I did The Grand Canyon at Blackheath for the first time in about 15 years and it reminded me how awesome it was. They are touresty for a reason.

With this in mind I was keen to take Tal through Empress, and as I had never done Fortress it seemed like a logical inclusion.

DCIM166GOPRO
DCIM166GOPRO

Mandy said she might be keen to come for the Empress leg with us. Sweet.

I sent the polite text around on the off chance the others were available. Surprise, they all were. Even Sweeter. The Plan was hatched.

The mountains had copped 150mm of rain early the week, which was a concern. If the catchment is waterlogged even a light rain can see water level rise rapidly in a canyon. But  the rain had come after a dry spell and a reccie showed water levels normal and soil still dry below the damp top 10mm. So we’d keep an eye on the weather radar but otherwise game on.

Then Edwin rolled his ankle and wouldn’t be coming. Ben and Mandy pulled out at the last minuet. Gaz asked if Jodie could come, he’d given her some abseil practice the day before. Yep no worries, if she wasn’t confident Empress can be reversed without doing the abseil.

So it was Tal, Meggs, Gaz, Jodie, Bryson and me.

As stated earlier, Empress canyon is popular with commercial tour groups and gets so busy NPs have installed a log book so groups can better space themselves out to avoid a cold wait for the abseil.

We got there early enough to avoid the commercial parties, 8am. one party was abseiling out as we were walking in but the log book was clear.

Empress is short, easy to get to and from but it is a very nice canyon. There are some deep, relatively dark sections and some lush more open sections. You can see why it’s popular with the guide companies.

It’s a 30min high light capped off with a stunning 30m drop down Empress falls. Unfortunately with Edwin out we didn’t have a 60m rope so we’d have to be content with the shorter 20m abseil down the side of the falls to a ledge above the main pool, probably the better option for Jodie’s first serious abseil.

While the over hanging start can be a little intimidating for beginners it is a fairly simple rap down to the slippery exit ledge. Every one was beaming at the bottom.

A few hikers stopped enjoy the spectacle.

A bit of time was spent swimming in the pool and jumping off ledges before packing up the suits and heading back to the car. Another party were setting up on the abseil as we hiked up the stairs to get back to the car at around 10am.

A quick drive back to Leura and out to Fortress Ridge. There were a few cars at the clearing that acts as a car park, mostly walkers and joggers by the looks. A couple of canyoners heading in just in front of us.

The walk in was fairly uneventful. Nice views from the ridge top then a steep stroll down to the creek on a fairly well defined trail.

fort1

We suited up straight way but left the harnesses for later. Somehow the couple who were in front of us reached this point just behind us. I was going to offer to let them go in front as we were the bigger thus, presumably, the slower moving party but they were still faffing about while we were set to go so we moved off thinking they’d leap frog us. It was a bit of a worry that even after spending a bit of time at the end having lunch with the view they never caught up to us.

Anyhoo. The descriptions said Fortress had 3 canyon sections separated by some creek walking.

The canyon sections were not particularly deep or dark but they were nice and the creek walking was very pretty

I scrambled down a tricky little drop in the first section, it wasn’t all that deep and had some rocks to avoid but with a bit of guidance the rest of the party jumped without incident. Water temp was pleasant, warmer than Empress though it may have become chilly without wet suits.

fortyabb

The standard check out the yabby shot. 3 mesial carpal spines and slightly less spikey tail identified these as Sydney crayish (E. Australasiensis) and there were a few smaller ones. The single discarded arm/claw we saw in Empress had the 2 spines of Giant Spiny Crayfish (E. Spinifer)

The low walls closed in again and an exciting 2m jump signaled the start of the second section

fort5

A bit more creek walking, boulder scrambling brought us to the 3rd section and a little abseil of 6 meters or so. Bryson and Tal were keen to jump it. I rapped down to check the water depth, its a little bit of an awkward start but no too complicated.

There were some rocky ledges immediately under the fall which were only waist deep. It was deeper further out so it might be able to be jumped but we decided not to risk it today.

 

Another pleasant constriction follows. It’s nice I was starting to think of it as some where between the wider float through canyons like Wollengambe and the tighter deeper canyons elsewhere. It was pretty, just not blow-your-mind-stunning, then after another short boulder hop it reveled it’s wow factor.

The canyon opened up and Fortress creek gently trickled its way over the 70m cliff line into Govetts Gorge with stunning views over Lockley Pylon, the Grose Valley and the Blue Gum forest with Mt Banks in the back ground on the far side of the Valley.

A couple of small pools right near the edge let you sit and soak in the ambiance.

It was a great place to grab a bite to eat.

It was still early when we got to the falls, just past 1pm. Not knowing how long the trip would take and wanting to start Empress early had the adverse effect of having us face the hike out in the heat of the day. After a cold week the weather decided to play summer and the temps climbed to around 31. We faffed about for a fair while before setting off.

The hike out starts steep. You gain a lot of elevation really quickly but there are plenty of spots to stop and take in the views and the views just keep getting better.

You gain the ridge top fairly quickly and from there its an easy stroll back along Fortress ridge.

 

There were 7 or 8 other cars in the clearing when we got back. 2 young joggers gave us a friendly hello as they got back around the same time, jumped in their car and left. Once again, despite the popularity we didn’t encounter anyone else while in the canyons. I was a little surprised by this.

I may need to do some maintenance to my pack (It is 20yr and has been dragged down a lot of canyon. Mtn Summit awesomeness) as my shoulders were a bit sore after this one and I got as little sun burnt on the ridge. Otherwise all in all an enjoyable day.

 

Party size: 6

Times:

Empress < 2hrs car to car with a bit of time spent at the pool at the bottom of Empress Falls Approximately 3km round trip

Fortress about 5hrs car to car with a relaxed lunch. Aprox 9km round trip (my garmin showed 6, though I stuffed up again and didn’t set it until we reached the crk. Gazs showed 16 but has some  error points in the canyon that wanted to jump across the valley)

Wallowing down the Wollangambe

I’ve been meaning to get my sister and her kids out of a trip for a while now but we just haven’t been able to coordinate it. Then things came together for new years day. The original plan was to do Twister and Rocky creek but with canyonfest on up that way and Edwin wanting to show his nephew down something with less jumping and a little warmer we settled on the popular Wollangambe 1 section

GOPR0716.JPG

The Wollangambe river has been in the head lines for all the wrong reasons lately.

An incident at Clarence colliery in June 2015 saw material (water and coal fines) from a reject dam enter the upper reaches of the river. According Gary Whytcross, Director of EPA South,  the quick response by the EPA in directing the company to install 22 silt fences had worked effectively to prevent any further material entering the Wollangambe River. While the bulk of the spill managed to be contained the ruggedness of the terrain made the clean up extremely difficult and coal fines (which despite some sensationalist headlines are nontoxic but still an added siltation issue to the river) did make it several kilometers down river

Clean up measures continue https://au.prime7.yahoo.com/n3/news/a/-/local/30332805/getting-on-with-the-job-video/

Anyhoo I’ve done this section many times over the years but we’ve always gone really early to avoid the crowds or really late to catch the glowworms.

Being New Years Day we decided to risk the crowds, take our time and meet at Mt Wilson at 10am. I’ve decided I’m not good at waiting about to do things. I’ll get ready early, double check things a few times get distracted, start something else and end up running late.

This time I manged to get there on time.

I know a few people have been asking to tag along on a trip and I’m not trying to be snobby but we already had a big slow moving party so don’t get offended if you didn’t get an invite this time around. It was a bit of a family thing

Saying that Tal ditched me and went camping and Beth just ditched me.

So we had Meggs and Ben, Myself and Mandy, Shaz and Sean and their 3 kids, Tom, Claire and Tillie, Edwin, Ed’s brother inlaw Ethan and his son Kybas(I know I’ve spelt that wrong, sorry mate)

A quick meet and greet at the car park and we were soon following the well worn footpad down towards the river

 

gambe 1

We made reasonable time and as we got closer to the cliff line you could hear other parties already at the river preparing to set off down stream.

Reaching the water there was another largish group almost ready to go. A smaller group not far off. Everyone was nice and friendly and some sizable yabbies were hanging about.

gambe2

 

There are a few crayfish species found in the waterways around the Blue mts the most common two you see in canyons both look very similar in size with similar colour morphs. They are the Sydney crayish (Euastacus Australasiensis) which tends to be more common in the lower mountains (thou there is a healthy population up around Leura). And, the Giant Spiny Crayfish (Euastacus spinifer) which tends to be more common in the upper mountains. Rule of thumb for telling them apart is Australasiensis has 3 largish mesial carpal spines on the joint below the claw where as Spinifer has 2.

I didn’t have a close look, I think these ones are E. Spinifer but I could be completely wrong.

Colours vary from bright red, to blackish, to greens, to bright blue with red spines… When I was a kid dad always said that if the creek flowed generally east they were red, if it flowed generally west they were blue. This tends to hold reasonably true but I have seen different colours in different parts of the same creek so obviously it’s more complex than that. I think it comes down to camouflage. To us red seems striking but, in the ocean at least, bottom dwellers are often red as red light struggles to penetrate water to any great depth therefore most bottom dwellers lose the ability to see red and red things become invisible. As you move up into the canyons the dark, mottled light would favour darker critters and in the slower moving sections often littered with decomposing gum leaves maybe blues and greens blend in more. Or maybe Bright blues and reds are better at attracting mates in the dark waters. I really don’t know. Other than eels and the occasional snake I’m not sure if they’d have a natural predator beside each other once they gain a bit of size.

Anyway you could tell where the good eating was. The big daddy patrolling around the start beach was about 150mm long and probably 25-30mm across the thorax. There was one just down stream of the popular lunch beach even bigger and the one at the exit dwarfed both. and smaller ones were plentiful in between.

E Spinifer have been recorded to around 250mm long and weighting well over 1kg. You often see ones approaching that size in Deep Pass Canyon but nothing that big spied today.

gambe3

We get busy inflating our array of surf mats, Lilos and even a 2 person boat as the other groups head off in front of us. As we depart I can hear another group behind but once going we didn’t really see the other groups besides when we leap frogged each other at on our respective lunch stops and then again at the exit

It is a different style of canyon trip. The first third, at least, is very relaxing as you float with the current, giving your self the occasional couple of paddles to steer or for a slight boost in speed.

Being in no particular rush we take the opportunity to climb up the canyon walls at several spots and indulge in a bit of cliff jumping. You carefully check water depth before heading up. Once up you look down and it’s a bit eerie. You can’t see anything in the glassy water and you start second guessing yourself, then from way down in the depths some bubbles make their way up (I’m assuming from the crayfish) you can see a hell of a long way down and the bottom is no where insight.

I scramble up our first spot and jump from a reasonable ledge inside a little cave, I’m thinking it’s around 5m, maybe a tad more, it’s pretty cool. Ben and Claire follow me. Ben claims he is scared of heights but takes the leap with a grin on his face. Claire isn’t scared of anything and just launches herself. We all have a bit of fun on this one, Tillie looks dwarfed by the rock she jumps off but barely hesitates either.

Edwin scrambles up to a higher ledge directly above the cave. I’m guessing it’s around the 10-12m mark, I’ve heard people claiming 15 but I doubt it’s that high. We launch off that and continue down to find more ledges. There are so many options.

We float on down, the sun is directly over head now and it’s quiet warm. Water temps is such the wetsuits probably weren’t necessary but they are not uncomfortably warm either.

Several boulder scrambles follow. These take a bit of effort to negotiate with the lilos and boat but we pick our way through

gambe6gambe7

I’ve been thinking lately of what it is that attracts me to canyoning. People who know what it is but haven’t done it often refer to canyoners as “adrenaline junkies” but I can tell you that aint it. Sure there might be a bit of an adrenaline rush from the cliff jumps like we did today but there are a hell of a lot easier,quicker ways to get an adrenaline rush than hiking,swimming and scrambling through the bush for 5 or 6 hrs straight.

I’m sure there is an endorphin high from the sustained effort and that is probably part of it. Seeing stunningly beautiful places relatively few other people get experience is a major part but the thing I discovered in my pondering was the the puzzle aspect. I’ve always liked puzzles and canyoning is one long, live action, 3D puzzle. How do we navigate in? (Poorly, I can hear Meggsie’s accusation now) whats the best way to get through this boulder jam?  Whats the best spot to set up the anchor? Will the ropes pull down OK? How do we get out? From planing to doing it’s a great challenge.

Anyhoo I digress.

gambe9         The Great Wollangambe Sphinx

We continue our way down stream with a mix of floating, walking and scrambling for a way before diverting up the bottom of Water Dragon canyon which enters the Wollangambe on the left. Water Dragon canyon is a lot more constricted and dark than the section of the Wollangambe it flows into. It’s also called the Kelvinator because you can feel the temp drop dramatically as you wander up. It’s worth the side trip as there is a very dark section you can get up too with out to much scrambling and only 1 cold swim. Didn’t see any glowworms today but it’s so dark you sometimes see them in the middle of the day.

We came across a iddy biddy tiger snake on the way up Water Dragon. I normally give baby snakes a wide berth. Because just about anything bigger than them eats them they tend to be fast, nervous and very defensive. The coolness of the canyon had this one fairly placid and the colours on it were stunning for such a tiny snake

You see snakes in cold canyons like this and your first thought is it must have fallen in and become trapped but scrolling through the good ol’ Facebook for photos tagged in the ‘Gambe there is a few from not that long ago of a big tiger snake in the kelvinator so I’m wondering if laying a clutch here might be a deliberate ploy to put the hatchlings somewhere they are less likely to be eaten by birds and other reptiles. Considering we’ve stumbled across juvenile snakes on several of our last canyon trips it has me wondering…

Back to the relative warmth of the Gambe. Even though there didn’t seem to be a big flow coming out of the Kelvinator the water down stream is noticeably cooler. It’s still not unpleasant but you do notice the temp difference.

Not much further on and its our exit spot. I tend to forget about the haul out of this section. It’s such a pleasant trip down and you think of it as a good beginners trip but the walk out is no easier than most other canyons. Bigger than some.

There is a short, exposed climb that can be intimidating for non climbers. The kids all rocked up with out issue, though Tillie had to stretch for hand holds at one point. The walk out has some great views but for some people it could be seen as a long, one foot in front of the other/surely we’re at the top by now/how much bloody further/OMG is that the top of the ridge up there/I’m done just leave me here … slog