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Participants: Rachel Grindlay, James Yorston, Liz Edye, Chris Stephens, Jamie
Packing took a reasonable amount of time as it was the first day of canyoning on this trip for all of us except James. Eventually we were all equipped and ready. Jamie had shoes rather than the flip-flops that he had done Du Faurs in on Christmas Eve. We were all sorted! Or so we thought until we got about a quarter of the way up the Pipeline Track and Jamie’s soles became unattached from his shoes. Fortunately James had a roll of tape with him and a quick tape job put us back in business. The slog up Pipeline was going well until close to the top, I had a few dizzy spells so slowed my pace down. This gave the others a chance to enjoy the view from the lookout while I made my way up the final few metres.
We then headed out on the ridge and James took us off track and onto the ridge top to ensure we didn't end up on the wrong ridge. We dropped off the ridge down towards the creek. We wandered along the creek bed for a while before we reached our first abseil. Not knowing how wet the canyon was likely to be we debated whether to put the wetsuits on now or later. The rope hit water so I decided to suit up and the others followed suit (other than James who hadn’t bothered to bring one). I was first down the reasonably straightforward abseil. I soon realised the wetsuit was completely unnecessary as the water that the rope had hit was all in one small stagnant pool on the first level. I continued down from that ledge to the bottom of the abseil where there was another stagnant pool complete with plenty of mosquitoes. I belayed while the mosquitoes feasted on my legs. We were soon all down and walking through a nice constriction of canyon. This quickly opened out and we had a reasonably lengthy, hot walk before we hit the next section of canyon. Wearing wetsuits made this walk all the more pleasant and I was a sweaty mess by the time the next section appeared.
So sweaty that a murky pool of water that we needed to cross was looking vaguely attractive! We were concerned that as the water was so low it would be difficult to get out the other side as it was just a muddy bank with very few handholds. A few investigations found an excellent route over the top of the pool thanks to some very conveniently placed large tree routes to traverse on. We avoided getting wet with some rock scrambling in the next very nice sections of canyon. Most of the pools were fairly shallow (but much clearer than the early murky ones). We reached the final abseil which I went down first. It was very overhung which made life interesting for our less experienced party members. Jamie going for an upside-down swing but made it down fine. That was the end of the canyon so we stopped for lunch.
We then had the option of a final large abseil or just scrambling down towards the Wolgan. Chris & Jamie were keen for more abseils so James rigged up the abseil with both of our ropes. During this time the clouds were building and thunder/lightning were increasing. By the time I was first down the abseil the lightning was almost directly overhead. All I could think of was a recent article I had read of how to avoid getting struck by lightning – one of the tips being 'don’t get stuck on a wet rope'! When I got to the first ledge there was a large dead tree with a sling on it. Rather than do the one abseil it seemed more sensible to rig it as two. So I pulled down the rope to the knot so that I could use the second rope to rig the next abseil. They were both enjoyable abseils though I think I would’ve preferred the scrambling given the amount of electrical activity happening above. Once we were all down and the ropes/harnesses stowed away we just had to descend to the Wolgan and walk back along the road. As I remembered from Starlight the descent took a long time and I was pretty glad when we finally could see the Wolgan. Not having read Tom’s notes too carefully we proceeded to bash our way directly up to the road finding out afterwards we should’ve have gone upstream several hundred metres to where the road runs directly alongside the river. We got back to camp around 6pm.