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Participants: Rachel Grindlay, Caoimhin Ardren
Tom dropped me off in Windsor at 7:25am on his way to the Colo. Caoimhin arrived at 8am and we were off to the mountains. Despite frequent suggestions from Caoimhin that we should just go to the coffee shop in Mt Wilson we were soon at the Mt Banks picnic area. The weather certainly didn't look like it had 'cleared early' with plenty of dark cloud and wind about. We figured if it really packed in we could always abort.
A brief chat with a lone bushwalker who was heading down Zobel's gully and then we were off. We left the car at 9:30am. Overtook the lone bushwalk a while later, he was walking considerably slower than us with a pack that sagged down and hit the back of his knees. We overtook him though he must have picked up his pace after that as he caught us while we were discussing where to drop in. A strange conversation over our location ensued and left us hoping he didn't get lost. We decided it was time to start bushbashing so left the firetrail at 11:05am and started heading down the ridge. On cue the rain started up, not too fierce just drizzly and annoying, fortunately it didn't last long. The descent was pretty steep. Tom had marked on the map a route he'd taken in previously that didn't involve abseiling we were soon contemplating pulling out the ropes. Caoimhin did some sketchy traversing and managed to find a route down via cave. Eventually we were in the creek at 11:40am.
The next couple of hundred metres were extremely slow going and in half an hour we had only made it round to the next gully which had two tributaries flowing in. We pushed on and started moving a bit quicker, including a couple of sections of lovely open creek bed. There was little sign of any canyon, not entirely surprised since Tom had explored some of this section and had seen no canyon.
Finally we got to our first compulsary dip and also the first real sign of any canyon. It was about 1:30pm at this stage so we decided that rather than try to do the whole canyon we'd suit up, abandon our bags and go for an explore. We waded through the lovely section of canyon - in some places up to chest deep (on me) probably more like waist deep on Caoimhin. Unfortunately the canyon opened out again almost immediately. There was lots more creek bashing until an "ooooh" from Caoimhin indicated some more canyon. This looked more promising! A bit of contemplation about whether we'd be able to get back up the scrambles and we were on our way... for all of 50 m before we were in open creek again.
Half an hour after leaving the bags we were presented with a large pool which required another swim. We decided to head back at this point. Regathering our gear we headed up stream to a large cave and had lunch. (3pm) Putting the wet shorts on instead of my thermal pants was not particularly pleasant as the weather hadn't improved at all and there was no sign of any sun for warmth. We made our way back to the gully with two tributaries and scrambled up the right of them. It was pretty easy scrambling, a bit of exposure, and I don't know that descending it would be pleasant. Soon we were up on the ridge (4pm), "at least fires are good for something" said Caoimhin as we quickly made our way through the burnt out sections. The ridge walking was pretty pleasant, other than a rude interruption by a large ant that decided to inflict large amounts of searing pain on me. The section just before we got back to the car had thicker growth but all-in-all a pretty plesant section of off-track. We then had a short section of firetrail getting back to the car at 5:37pm.
The day finished about the right time - while I was happily tired - rather than completely stuffed. We headed home via pizza in Richmond.