|The canyon log is my chronological account of the various canyon
trips that I have been fortunate enough to partake, and in some cases,
Sydney is blessed with an abundance of rugged bush land less than two
hours drive away, and in this bush land lie some of the most pristine and
delicate environments that can be found.
These trips are 'canyon' trips which involves starting high in the range and following a creek or stream as it carves it's way down to the river valley. The Kanangra canyons are generally fairly open and following these is an exercise in abseiling and scrambling. The beauty of this area is the panoramic views along the Kanangra Walls and valleys. The incredible ruggedness of the area.
Blue Mountains canyons like Claustral, cut deep into the sandstone below them and over time have worn channels and gutters, deep enough that direct sunlight never reaches the bottom. Walking and swimming through these is a magical tour through a ferny green wonderland. A visit to the lost planet.
I have kept these notes as a reminder to myself of the individual trips, as well as to provide 'some' useful information for following excursions, or to supply to others planning similar outings.
As I have been hap-hazardly adding pictures lately, these pages are best viewed at a screen resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels !
Claustral , Mt Tomah
Saturday 22nd March 2003
Vert. Elev: 500m (approx.)
Distance : 5km (approx.)
Time : 10 hrs (aprox.)
Comments: A big day out. Good weather.
Ropes: 1 x 60m ; 1 x 30m
All photos courtesy of Ben Hazelton, Steve Ristic
Other Sources of information on this area :
We re-sheduled for the following week and we couldn't have timed it better !
The day we missed saw a self-rescue out of Claustral which ended up invloving about 17 people as groups behind caught up with the injured party.
The day after our trip, 5 guys were reported missing (family called police and an EPIRB was set off as well). Bad night to be caught out... it absolutly pissed down all night !
Our day was ... well ... Great !
The dawn broke as quickly as it took us to gear up and we found ourselves bathed in the early morning light as we wandered along the (new) firetrail.
This trail is new for me anyway ! I was expecting the usual of wide track gradually petering out and a small footpad off to the right. instead we found a fresh vehicle track leading steeply down the hill, and ending at the way to the National Parks sign. A short while later and we were down in the primeval darkness of the creek, sweating lightly and already (silently) looking forward (kind of) th the first swim.
"hey this water's not cold !"
"don't need a wetsuit for this !"
etc etc etc ...
Those that havn't been before are in for a suprprise !
The first section of creek walking is always an enjoyable expirience. The track meanders back and forth along the creek. Sometimes in it, sometimes a few meters to the side or above it. Occasionally there is the need to scramble up or down a short drop. Several of these provide an excellent visual contrast of size. Looking back as other members are scrambilng down you get a much better impression of how small we are, compared to our location and activity. Everything is huge. The rocks. The Ferns. The tree's clinging to the rocks. Steve and I laugh at the site of a tree, 20 meters or more in height, that appears to be growing from the side of a boulder which itself is overhanging the creek and several meters above it. The tree is literally growing beside the rock, but it's roots bend at right angles and form 'arms and legs' that wrap around the rock and bury (hopefully) deep into the lush soil beyond.
We reached the first swim about an hour from the car. Suiting up, I'm wondering if I should have brought my vest as well. It's going to be cold and this forst one is always the coldest. Warm body meets cold water !
With everyone set to go, I jump in, taking care to jump out to clear the shallow rocks close in.
It's cold !
One by one the other follow, and each one registers surprise at the water temp in their own way ! Everyone is glad of their wetsuits now !
More pleasant walking and a final scramble down get's us to the abseils. We can hear the other group ahead of us, and it sounds like they are just clearing the last pitch.
Because of our large group size we have taken a leaf from the caver's book and opt to rig the 1st and 2nd pitches together with a long rope and a re-belay. Our short rope carried through for the last pitch. In this manner we can get people on both the 1st and 2nd pitches at the same time, as well as eliminating rope drag on the fisrt pitch. The added benefit is that people are encouraged to unclip after the first pitch before paddling across to the 2nd. This works well on the day and I am releived no one has any trouble. Images of a friend struggling along the rope against rope drag and cold, on a previouse trip.
The guys are enjoying this part we all marvel at the concepts that come into play when considering natures construction of a place like this.
Tony and I can't wait to get Whanny down the next hole. The mandatory flooding of the unsuspecting abseiler is always a simple joy. (simple things ...)
On the way through the stream at the bottom, just before emerging ontl the light again, I find Steve standing to one side staring straight up as if mesmerised. Joining him he shows me the droplets of water falling from so high above appear to be travelling in slow motion. A kind of Spielberg warp-speed effect. Very cool !
Out in the daylight again at the Ranon junction and it's sooooo greeeeeen !!! Looking back from the next swim the view is simply soft, cool, green lushness.
I stare wistfully at the 'big' moss covered boulder and remember the trip Tove and I jumped, with the encouragement of the three friends we'de made, from the top into the clear pool below. Not feeling as sporty today, but a mental note for next time !
This next section of the canyon is deep and narrow. Occasionally huge tree trunks and log jams along the way serve to remind me of the force of water that must flow through here at times. It would be a fantastic sight !
At the junction with Thunder we drop our packs for a short break and some food. During the imtermission I launch off up Thunder with a few of the guys in tow on a privet mission. I hate to admit this but, each time I've come here, I've tried in vain to find these blasted glow worms ! The info I've had has always been variable but the one common thread in all of it was 'find a small cave under the water fall about 100m upstream from the junction'.
Each time I've been here (and beyond) but never found any waterfall ! This time however I was determined to search around in the jumble of rocks and bingo... Glow Worms. Not as many as I had thought would be there , but small pockets twinkling away in the dark. Not excited by my discovery Tony crawled into a hole on the left hand side and low and behold, he found the mother load ! A very worthwhile discovery !
Back at the junction we met another group (of four) that had caught us up from behind. We chatted a bit and they moved on while we got ourselves ready to go. We managed to tag along with two of them for a little while but gradually dropped back until they were no longer in sight.
At one point we all downclimbed a short drop with the aid of some 'almost' convinient roots. The climb being initiated by a controlled swing out onto the face. Andrew gave us a huge scare here. Not only did he manage to slip off the roots, but with lightning fast reflexes, managed to jam his foot into a crack, before falling backwards. The end result was he was now suspended upside down from his lower leg. Ben and I could not believe the bones didn't snap ! (In hind sight we also still can't belive there wasn't any ligament damage!).
Shaken and just a little stirred, Andrew seemd to suffer no ill effects other than some loss of skin and hair from his calf...
A couple more scrambles, and some hand over hands ans swims and we would soon be at the end of the canyon.
I've found I can jump, err slide anyway, at the last hand-over hand. You have to be very carefull of two things. Firstly, the rock get's quite slippery so stay low and be prepared. Secondly, after you have carefuly sidled out to the right, be sure to pin drop directly down the face. Don't go 'out' at all. The water is deep at that point, but there is a large slpoing rock on your left. The slope on this rock continues below the surface and encroaches well and truly into your landing zone. Be prepared to glance off it if need be !
At the end of the canyon we met up with two of the guys who passed us before. Much levity had as we lunched and chatted and found that the other guys were kinda stuck waiting ... Their two other companions had either : gone ahaead (back to the car) - unlikey that they would not wait. gone further down the canyon (either exploring or missed the exit)
Our two friends were now in a slight dillema. They had already been waiting for a while and were uncomfotable with just bailing back to the car, in the event the others had in fact missed the exit.
Having lunched and dressed we decided to move and promised that if we found their friends along the way we would send them back.
No need, as it turned out, they had gone back to the car and it was just simple communication of intentions breakdown.