GLEN DAVIS – FRESHWATER CANYON B BRANCH – MARCH 2016
As we were climbing up yet another hill in the stinking heat and I said to Aine G “who’s idea was this anyway”, she reminded me that it was a comment from me to Julie B about Freshwater Canyon “let’s do it Julie B, I’ve got 4th March free”! And so, Julie organised a trip out to Freshwayter Canyon, Glen Davis way. I had never done one of the Glen Davis canyons, and as an introduction, this canyon had it all, it was long, dark, narrow and one of the best canyons I’ve done. Yes, the climb up was very hot and gruelling, but once you were on the top, that was the worst of it, it was all down-hill from there!
I drove up the night before and camped at Coorangooba Campsite, hadn’t been there either and as it was Thursday night, the campsite was empty, I had the place to myself. Julie, Aine, Colin and Jim C arrived around 8.30am and we headed out.
You can find the track notes on the net, so no need to talk about routes etc, we were doing B Branch today, apparently the best of the 3 or 4 Branches that could be done. We walked along the old fire trail and then peeled off heading up the spur. Eventually we came to the cliff-line and contoured around the base of the cliff. By this time we’d picked up a foot-pad and followed that all the way to the camp cave. We took a break here, it was really humid and heating up fast and it had been all up-hill.
Heading out we were in the creek now and heading up stream looking for our pass on the left hand bank up onto another spur. By now it’s getting really, really hot and once up the pass, the hill was very steep. After what seemed like hours, we halted for lunch and a breather and Jim (who was navigating) decided that we could contour around, we didn’t have to climb any further. Aine and I were so glad to hear about that. It took a while, but before long we were looking for a route down into our creek. We put a hand line in and went down a small slope but discovered that it cliffed-out, so we went back up and traversed along a little further and finally found a gully that seemed to go the way we wanted to go; and, there was a sling – an indication that others had entered the creek this way, so we suited up. It wasn’t all that pleasant putting a wet suit on over a sweaty body, and then waiting in the sun to abseil, there were two short pitches, the last one ending in a pool, I just sat there under a small waterfall and cooled off.
Pretty soon everyone was down and luxuriating in the pool and the cool water. We retrieved the ropes and started exploring the canyon.
As I said, probably one of the best canyons I’ve done, long, dark and rarely visited, unlike the canyons closer to Sydney which often have 2 or 3 groups through them every weekend. This canyon probably has a dozen or so groups through it in a season, so the mosses and vegetation have plenty of time to recover from being trampled on. It was incredibly green, and there were lots of swims, a couple of jumps and some interesting climb downs. Sometimes when we abseiled a short pitch, we discovered that there was a way to either walk around it or under it. An indication that there was an alternative route was the absence of a sling.
On one particular abseil, Julie abseiled it and then found the detour and came up behind us, I then joined her and did the little section of cave to get to the bottom, I didn’t much like the look of the abseil, so was happy with the detour. We all learned a lot from Julie on this trip; on one small climb down, the foot and hand holds weren’t the best and it was a bit pushy, so Julie set herself up as a “meat anchor”, the rope was attached to her descender and she was wedged in a spot that ensured she couldn’t be pulled down, and we all abseiled down using her as the anchor, then at the end the last person assisted Julie down the climb safely (she couldn’t abseil). On another occasion, we used the “short rope” technique that she’d learned in either NZ or the US, both anchors were new to the rest of us and worked really well (something for our tool boxes).
I was particularly happy with one abseil off the end of a log, with some care I nailed it, everyone else had done it less than gracefully (this one here at the right), well obviously Colin thought I was being far too smug about it so splashed me! The abseils, climbs and swims just kept on coming, and it was starting to get late, we still had a 3 hour walk out and didn’t seem to be any where near the end of the canyon. And then, we were there, back at the section where we’d crossed over and accessed the ridge. We took off our wetsuits, cleaned the sand out of our shoes and started on the track out. We knew it was touch and go as to whether or not we’d make it to the Freshwater Creek fire trail in daylight so we didn’t muck around, but still we were a few hundred metres from it when darkness descended and out came the headlamps. Blundered about in the bush a bit looking for the fire trail and then miraculously we were on it and had the 30 minute walk back to the cars. We got back at around 9pm, and figured the canyon had taken us about 11hrs 45min car to car. A really big day and would have been easier if it hadn’t been so hot. I’m going to have to go back and take some of the A-Team, they’d love it, but next time, instead of starting at 8.45am, I’ll start at 7.30 to ensure we got out at daylight, and take advantage of the coolest part of the day. Thanks Julie for organising the trip, FANTASTIC!