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Kanangra to Katoomba

29/09/2007 - 01/10/2007

Participants: Rachel Grindlay, Alexa McAuley, David Knights, Matthew Hollingworth, Dylan Anderson, Maureen Brauers, Matt May

The day started bright and early with Alexa picking me up at 5:40am. We picked Dave and Maureen up from Redfern station and then we were off to the mountains. Our brilliant timing meant that Matthew was turning onto the Narrowneck road at the time we arrived there. We drove out to the locked gate, moved all our gear into Matt's car and were off to Kanangra. Well, almost, there was the mandatory bakery and coffee stop in Blackheath first. Matthew dropped us out at the Kanangra car park and then collected Matt and Dylan from Boyd River camp site where they had camped overnight. After some serious re-packing by Matt and Maureen we were ready to go. Just before we left a couple of car loads of uni students rocked up, I was going to comment that they looked like day trippers (in their jeans etc) but didn't...

We didn't linger for views of Kanangra Walls and were soon out on the plateau. We stopped briefly to point out Kanangra Main (flowing healthily) and Kalang Falls. We marched on until a sudden halt due to a large snake crossing the track. It eventually slithered off and we continued, until Matthew asked Lex whether we were heading in the right direction. It had crossed my mind several times that we were heading the wrong way but I kept getting distracted by the conversation and hadn't said anything. A brief discussion and we agreed we were heading east rather than north. doh! We back tracked hoping not to encounter the snake again and were soon heading along the cliff edge further along the plateau. We had a short break and I was very surprised when the group of students from the car park arrived, loaded up and looking very much like they were also doing K to K.

As we didn't start walking till after 11am we pushed on until Mt High and Mighty before stopping for lunch after 2pm. From there we were quickly over Rip, Rack, Roar, Rumble and at the summit of Mt Cloudmaker. I signed the log book, somewhat disappointed at the lack of entries, only to read that the old book had been removed for the coronial inquest into the death out here earlier in the year. There were two entries from early today, one from a three-peaker and then a couple who were also doing K2K. Sundown was fast approaching so we pushed on to Dex's Creek. We lost the track briefly but found it after some investigation. The water was flowing merrily and we set up camp as the sun went down. Matthew and Dylan managed to cook and eat dinner in possibly the most efficient amount of time I have ever seen for a camping dinner, possibly a result of a lot of snow camping? On the other hand, we were far more leisurely in our approach to getting dinner ready. I had my first experience of solid gluten, which went favourably. As we were finishing up dinner the group of we had seen earlier finally rocked into camp. They proceeded to set up their tents in between ours, I didn't realise there was even room to fit a tent between them! Dave, Lex and I were sharing Dave's 3-man tent, we had fortunately set up further away from the others and were not kept up till midnight with talk of the best shopping in Bondi Junction.

We were awake early the next morning, as the sun is getting up at 5:30am. Matthew got us up at 6:30am and we were away from camp by 8am. The first few kilometres passed uneventfully until Matthew stopped us. He thought we might be heading in the wrong direction so after much consultation with map and compass we turned back to the last track junction we had been at. We then headed off in the other direction, this track soon petered out and we were scrambling our way along some ledges. After more map consultation we realised that we were skirting Mt Moorilla Maloo, we backtracked and headed back down the original track we had been on. It was beautiful ridge walking out to Mt Strongleg. We then descended steeply down to the Coxs River, there were a few stacks but nothing serious. Kanangra Creek was flowing strongly and we stopped for morning tea since it was only 10:30am. After that we crossed Kanangra Creek a couple of times on our way downstream to the base of Yellow Pup Ridge. We then crossed the Coxs River, it was very refreshing break for the feet. Deciding to lunch some way up the ridge we headed up; Dave, Alexa and Dylan set a cracking pace while Maureen was struggling with severe pain in her quads. We had a break about two-thirds of a way up where Maureen got a few paracetamol. We then set off for the top, the paracetamol had done their work and Maureen was much happier by the end of that climb. We had lunch at the top of the ridge just before 2pm.

After lunch we headed out on what should have been a short remaining section to Mobbs Swamp. We had some discussion at the junction before Mt Dingo about whether to take the high route but decided that since Mobbs Swamp was only a 1km further on we would just get to camp and those who were interested could come back and visit Splendour Rock. We passed a group of about 15-20 kids heading out to Spendour Rock, who were also camping at Mobbs Swamp. We had some discussion about how crowded the campsite would be and how we didn't want to be camping right next to the group from the previous night again. We seemed to have been walking for somewhat more than a kilometre when Matthew stopped us and said he thought we'd missed the turnoff. Alexa also had a 'feeling' we had, but since her last experience of Mobbs Swamp was 15 years earlier she wasn't entirely sure. We turned round and back-tracked for a while but didn't see any obvious tracks. We were confident that we were in the spot where Mobbs Swamp was marked on Matthew's map, especially since I claimed to be able to see gear down in the gully below. I suggested we just bash down into the gully, so we did. At the bottom there was no sign of camping though Dylan suggested we just camp there to avoid being overrun by the multitude of other campers at Mobbs Swamp. Alexa and Dave went further down the gully to see if we'd just not gone far enough. In the meantime I pulled out my 25k map and we checked it out. Suddenly the light dawned, Matthew had manually marked Mobbs Swamp on his printed out map and it was in the wrong place! We were exactly where he had marked on his map, it just wasn't Mobbs Swamp! So we headed back up to the track and walked back along the track and just a few hundred metres past where we had originally turned around we came to Mobbs Swamp. Having been there now I know there is no way you can miss it since it is a large clearing right on the track. We were also relieved to see it was spacious and there were numerous camping spots in the casuarinas so there was little chance of being over run by other campers. We set up camp a fair way back from the track, needless to say there was no thought to backtrack and see Splendour Rock

Again I was amazed at the speed of preparation and consumption of dinner by Dylan and Matthew. Lex provided the dinner of the trip with a silverbeet, pumpkin, feta and pine nut pasta. It was much warmer compared to the first night and we were quite comfortable sitting out - my down jacket didn't even get out of its stuff sack. I think we all slept pretty well but were still up by 6:30am the next morning. After filling up water we left camp at 8am.

Lex set out with a cracking pace which none of us managed to keep up with, but in our valiant attempts we all made very good time to get to the firetrail to Medlow Gap. The wind had picked up and it was very windy climbing up to Mt Derbert. I was glad that Taros Ladder is somewhat enclosed as the wind was fierce. Once up Taros Ladder I quickly scooted up the remaining sections and waited for the others in the camp cave. After the final ladder climb we were up on Narrowneck with only fire trail between us and the car. The fire trail seemed to go on forever, there were distractions with a few waratahs in flower but with the combination of the wind and the monotonous walking we were all very glad when we finally got to the locked gate at 12:30pm. After some discussion Lex drove the Sydney folk into Katoomba then went back and got the Canberra guys. We had a bakery lunch and then Lex drove the Canberra guys out to Kanangra. I hung out in Katoomba while Dave and Maureen got the train back to Sydney. Lex picked me up at 6pm where I took over the driving. We had a dream run back to Sydney, who would have thought it was a long weekend?