The Dry Canyon

25-06-17

Catherin, Devon and I

So after our trip through River Caves Mandy had to be back in town early but the rest of us decided to take the drive out to the dry canyon which is always a great one for showing newbies

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It’s a bit pongy today, says I. Probably that dead dingo, says Catherin. Don’t know how I missed it. Poor thing looks to have taken a few wounds and sort refuge up in a little alcove but didn’t make it through.
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Standard dry canyon shots to come

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And with plenty of time in the day we decided to slip over the tops to bask in some sunlight and take in the views

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The pagodas that from the Dry canyon with Donkey Mt in the back ground
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At least here we can look down on the rich bastards in the Emerites resort

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Its a long way down into that dark cervice to where we just were
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It doesn’t feel like it arcs so much when you walk through it
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Heading back up the middle canyon section

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All in all a pleasant day in the great outdoors

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“the great French climber called it ‘The conquistadors of the useless.’ Yeah, the end result is absolutely useless, but every time I travel, I learn something new and hopefully I get to be a better person.” –  Yvon Chouinard, 180 Degrees South”

The River Caves

 

25-06-2017

Devon, Catherine, Mandy and I

So the enviros at work expressed and interest in visiting River Caves Canyon. So I teed up a little trip

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Catherine checking out the start of River Caves Canyon
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Devon about to enter the River Caves
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Mid winter water temps

 

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Easy to see why Rus May and John Norris originally called it the Water Tunnel

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It’s only a short trip

2 hrs car to car with a bit of time taking happy snaps so we decided on adding the Dry canyon to our trip

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“I go to Nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put together.” –John Burroughs

 

Bobs Canyon, AKA Broadhead canyon

24-06-2017

Tal and I

Bob told me about this one a while ago but I hadn’t managed to go for a look for it yet.

Apparently some time in the distant past they explored it, looking  in from the top, then finding their way to the bottom. They thought it was 2 abseils and dragged logs in for anchors. Only just past the second drop where they expected it to open out was a 3rd drop… with no anchor point. Lucky they had some kids with them and they lowered one down to drag some more logs up to jam between the canyon walls.

 

Anyhoo me and Tal had nothing on so we decided to go for a walk to see if we could find it. Bob had given me some good directions but I still managed to swerve a little to far right trying to avoid the worst of the scrub, still thinking I was on top of the ridge so not checking the compass we ended up on a little spur.

Back tracking we regain the main ridge. Thinking Tal would be hating me for the scrub I asked if he just wanted to head back to the car or continue on.

Continue on says he.

We work our way down into the little depression that would eventually become the canyon but skirt around the side of it to get a look in from the top.

The veiws from the end of the ridge were outstanding.

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Photos do not do this landscape justice, these pagoda cliff lines were 30-40m tall

We enjoyed a bit of lunch on top of a fantastic pagoda. Bob tells me there is a colony of Broad-Headed snakes that frequent this area and we spend some time peering into crevices but have no luck in seeing any.

With a little look around we spie a likely route back up from the valley below then head off to check out the canyon.

We hadn’t really planned to drop in today, just a scouting mission but we had thrown the ropes in at the last minute just in chase.

The short canyon looked as awesome as Bob had described, an arcing slot that dropped steeply through the cliff line. But it sounded like there was a bit of flow over the falls.

we make our way back along the tops and find a way to scramble down just as the canyon begines to slot up. A short way in there’s a down climb to a short pool. Crystal clear, deep enough to jump into but freezing cold. We back track slightly to see if we could get past on leadges and drop in on the other side.

We make our way along a serries of thin ledges but the further we go the less options to set up an abseil. We do, however spy the top of the first drop. The trickle of water in the creek srpays out from the wall. We’d definately be getting wet. We hadn’t planned on that so we deside to stick with plan A and back track out.

Know I know the way in and what to expect it will be on the list to do at a later date.

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A slot I thought may give access back up but nope.

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Looking back up to the start of the canyon
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Looking down on the exit portal
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Hmmm to deep to wade, too wide to straddle

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“You don’t have to sit outside in the dark. If, however, you want to look at the stars, you will find that darkness is necessary. But the stars neither require nor demand it.” –Annie Dillard

Scrub bash to somewhere

12-06-17

Julie, Ed, Ethan, Gaz, Jodie and me

I have to say after our scrub bash to nowhere I was fairly surprised the others would still be keen on coming out, let alone head back with the same goal in mind. Something about unfinished business. The more we looked over maps the more convinced we were right there, just misinterpreted the trail notes.

With a whole range of schedules and commitments finding a date where every one was available was the tricky part.

The date was set and eagerness grew. Then Illness struck. Ed rang saying he was crook as a dog. I called Gaz saying I was reluctant to do the trip without Ed as it was his idea in the first place. I was just heading to the chemist to drug myself up, Says he, as I’m the same… Trip off.

It was going to be w while before everyone would be available again.

Then I got the opportunity to do the trip with others who had been there previously and a mid week reconnaissance mission took place. It had me more eager than ever to get the crew back there.

Another date was set.

Another set of circumstance meant not everyone could make it.

Postponed again

Finally 12months later every one was getting keen again. Ed suggested the June long weekend. We had a big MTB race on at Rydal which ruled out Saturday and Sunday. I needed to go to work Monday morning but arranged to go early so I could meet the others around 9.

I threw out an invite to Julie just in case she had a day off and luckily she did so it would be a party of 6.

Well Friday and Saturday pissed down. Like constant drizzle interspaced with good heavy rain. Sunday dried out just enough that the race at Rydal was on perfectly tacky trails but I warned the others that while usually dry above the knees with this rain we might get wet up to our waists… A slight under estimation.

Anyway we met up and made our way down into the Wolgan. A good fog rolled through the valley with the promise of clear blue sky once it lifted.

We made good time up the hill and through an easy break in the cliff lines. Much easier than the first way I lead them 12 months ago.

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Julie leads Ethan up through a convenient pass

 

 

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Another magical vantage point on the Wolgan cliff lines

Julie guided the way and we surprised ourselves by arriving bang on target at the lunch spot above the abseil anchor with surprisingly little scrub to be bashed at all.

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We need to squeeze down through that hole
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Usually dry it was nice to see water flowing down here, though it was a tad chilly. The hole opens out into a nice circular window

 

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As far as constrictions go it’s a fairly blah. But the abseil features make it worth it
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The start of the only real canyon section. I’m told last week this was ankle deep. Last year when I came through with Julie and the Cooks it was about nut deep. It looks a bit deeper today….. Chest deep for me. So much for not getting to wet today. Lucky it was a bluebird day

While some tried in vain in the end there was no option but to wade on through, except after we all had, Ed pointed out a high ledge we could have scampered across with a convenient abseil tree almost directly above the end of the pool.

And next is a fun little abseil down through a hole in the rock. It’s almost like a mini Alcatraz  but darker and narrower

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Gaz descending into the Hole
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Julie offering Jodie some tips as she bridges across a deep plunge pool within a Hole in the Rock
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Ed emerging from the Hole in the Rock. The Creek drops down a tunnel behind the rock face

next up is 2 awesomely exposed 30m abseils above the spectacular Wolgan valley

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The slot in the cliff line opens up with some grand views
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Julie leading the last abseil, a fun jaunt down a big slab with stunning views.

Our track notes said 2 ropes needed here but both center marks were on the ground so conceivably its doable on 1 genuine 60m (Note mine is about 63m and the center mark was just off the ground.

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Looking down the slab from the top of the last drop. You may be able to make out the gang at the bottom.
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Our slot is not obvious from below, pretty much center of the shot.

 

 

Party Size. 6. all experienced to intermediate

time: 5hrs car to car at a steady pace

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“There is no such thing as spare time. No such thing as free time. No such thing as down time. All you have is life time. Go!” Henry Rollins

 

 

 

Goochs Crater

10-06-2017

Mandy and I

This is becoming out go to walk on drenching wet days. It’s pretty in any weather

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Goochs Crater nice and green again

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Billabong canyon
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Billabong canyon with a bit of water flow
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Billabong Canyon
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Goochs Crater
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Nearly enough water for a swim
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Hi vis or no vis

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Acoustic

04/05/2017

Mandy Tal And I

Acoustic/SunnySide/Wombat(WTF?) is a great little canyon to visit in Winter as it has a nice constriction, some awesome erision caves and with a little bit of care it’s possible to get through it in normal conditions without getting you feet wet.

 

It’s fairly short so it’s usually conbined with other trips out that way but we had some other stuff to do and living close it’s an easy half day.

Pulling into the car park I handed the map and compass to Tal. Navigation is as straight forward as it gets in trackless terrain so it’s not a bad one to practice on. I gave him a bearing and he lead off following the path of least resistance through the scrub while staying on course. A decent effort delivered us to the dry water course about 100m upstream of where the pogodas sprout out the the ground and the creek canyons up.

Just before the jaws of the canyon Mandy decided to have a lie down when she stepped in a hole and twisted her ankle. After a bit of drama queen stuff she got up and said she’d be fine to keep going.

We left her to walk out the sprain a little as I lead Tallis up an easy scramble to check out the Acoustic chambers from above. The ridge above the western wall is easy to negotiate and gives a great perspective on the canyon.

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One of the “smaller” chambers near the start of the canyon
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Looking down the canyon towards 2 of the larger chambers
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Looking down into the canyon
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Tal checking the views from pogoda tops
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The large chamber from the western ridge
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Looking back up along the canyon

After quickly checking it out from above we make our way back to Mandy and head on in.

The canyon starts with a little twist and then a nice little tunnel scramble

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Mandy following tal into the gateway

There’s a few spots where it looks like you are sure to get your socks (and more) wet but with a bit of route finding and care you don’t even get the soles of your shoes wet

 

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Tal balancing of thin ledges to avoid getting wet. It might look like a mirror of liquid mercury in the harsh noon sun in the photo but its crystal clear

 

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Mandy reflecting on how we got past here with out getting wet. There are ways… We may or may not have shared our secret

and after a little bit of fun the eastern wall opens in to the large chamber…..

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Mandy an Tal eating lunch by the ferns while I check out the TARDIS effect, it’s bigger on the inside

You soon have to tranverse across the base of another chamber. In any other canyon this one would blow you away but it is eclipsed a bit by the previous one.

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Mandy traversing the balcony while Tal heads downinto the next section
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Once again it’s bigger from the inside
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Canyon formation

It’s advisable to traverse the right hand ledge above the last 100m of canyon. this avoids a little scrub as well as some delicate vegetation in the final slot which ends in a boulder choke. It also gives better views out into the Wolgan as the canyon opens up.

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The view down into the final slot is also pretty cool

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There are a few ways to exit. On my first visit we climbed an easy spot on the west wall and went back along the tops. It is also possible to scrmble out the exit portal and scramble around into Bushranger creek or to simply reverse the canyon but most parties now seem to use a hidden slot in the east wall. There a bit of a step up to access it so those short of leg may need a boost but once on the ledge it’s an easy ramp all the way to the top of the cliffs.

 

Once up there are vista’s applenty and it’s worth having a good look around.

Then Tal was back on map and compass to lead up up the ridge to the old fire trail and hence back to the car

 

Party size: 3 all experienced

Time. 1.5hr car to car even with the photo phaffing

Video to come if I can work out why my external drive with the go pro file and editted video on it decided to go RAW…

“many believe that the nature of the universe is to hide itself from mortal eyes. That we must search and meditate upon all around us to see and grasp the simple truth that
is enlightenment. However, perhaps the answers are being told to us all the time and we have just forgotten how to hear them.”

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Canyoning Foot wear. Bestard. Medium term test

Ok it’s been a solid 5 months since I purchase the Bestard Canyon guide boots and in that time they have taken me on approximately 32 trips. Mostly  canyons but with some creek walking and the occassional normal bush walk too so I thought it time to give an updated review.

 

You can read my intial thoughts here

 

 

Price.

As stated in the earlier review I got mine on special form the Canyonstore online. After postage they worked out to be abit over $200.

About 1 week after I ordered them I heard of a new shop openning in Katoomba that was to stock them,

Adventure Base Katoomba have them listed as $250. Which isn’t too shabby, and probably a touch cheaper than what I would have gotten mine for if not for the special.

Looks.

I said it before I’ll say it again? They are friggin moon boots straight from a dodgy 80’s sci fi show. Cool is you are into that sort of thing.

Though I do believe they have mellowed a bit with time.

Fit.

At the time fit was my biggest concern when ordering online. I probably went half a size to big. This hasn’t been an issue as the lace system gives plenty of scope to tighten them up and now the weather has turned and the water is somewhat cooler it allows me to comfortable wear 2 sets of wollen socks to help keep my toes warm.

With an Aussie retailer keeping plenty of sizes in stock this should no longer be an issue for Blue mtns canyons

Grip

No real issues with grip. I did have a bit of a slide on a wet log but I’m not sure different rubber could help there. And I did find a few spot in Arethusa a tad dicy, but it’s reknown for being slippery.

Sand

The only sand that seems to make it’s way into the boots is the stuff you get on your socks when getting changed into or out of your wetsuit. Win

Swimming

I still find the sensation of swimming in them weird. Its hard to explain what it is. But not a major issue

Wear

So they have seen a bit of action. I’ve snapped both laces. Didn’t notice until I got home and was taking them off, In fact I didn’t notice the last one until I took the photo below. Fixed with a knott or if you want a new set of boot laces.

The toe box of one also copped a cut.

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I’m not sure what I caught it on but I’m guessing with out the toe capping that might have been my flesh that was cut.

it didn’t effect thematerial underneath. A bit of stikka flex 1100c and shes as good as new

Sole wear. This a bit hard to tell from the photos as it looks like the side tread has worn a little bit but even when new the tread chamfers off toward the edge.

There is a bit of wear there but plenty of tread left.

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The uppers has seen a fair bit of action in thick scrub as well as the usual harsh canyon environment yet seem to have faired virtually unscaved

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Comfort

 

I wish all hiking boots were this comfortable out of the box.

In my first review I was a bit concerned how hot they might get on a long walk out but that was never an issue. They breathe pretty well and, I’m not sure if the hold a bit of moisture in the padding but they just never felt hot.

 

All in all, I rate them

 

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