Are the canyon gods trying to tell me something?


The day started out perfectly, everyone arrived on time, we nailed the route we wanted to take and explored the creek we wanted to explore, but by the end of the day, I’d be spending two hours in Lithgow’s emergency room.  And I still don’t know how I managed to injure not one but two legs!

We had always said we’d go back and explore one of the other side creeks to Dug’s canyon to see if there were any other canyons in the area.  Steve R, Trish M and I had the day free and Anna O-B, Emma P and Murray N joined us.  I didn’t really think twice about scheduling the trip on the weekend before I was due to fly out to the Scandinavian countries to maybe see the Northern Lights.  But the closer it got to the weekend, I was wondering the wisdom of going out into the wilderness (and rightly so some of you will be saying).

Steve suggested a fire trail that was on the map (better than my suggested entry), so we followed this as far as it would go thinking we’d go under the power lines as it would be cleared ground – wrong!  Under the power lines was thick with new growth.

So we opted to the route to the left, possibly should have chosen the right, can you see Anna forging ahead?

Steve with Anna in front.  The scrub was thick but we only had to negotiate our way through a few hundred metres of it.

We then came to some serious cliff-lines which meant we had to traverse upstream looking for a way down.

After traversing, dropping a few metres of elevation, traversing again, we came to a gully that looked promising.

It was “sketchy” and ended in a drop, so Murray rigged the rope for us.

Steve on the nice, easy abseil down the water course.

This brought us to a lovely Coachwood forest with a nice waterfall (not flowing).  Unsure whether or not you could climb around it and we didn’t take the time to find out.

We had morning tea near an overhang in the Coachwood Forest – lovely campsite for a short break!

We started downstream, hopeful of some canyon formation, this section was nice, still in amongst the Coachwoods but also some nice ferny spots.

A few small climb downs and finally some cliff walls closing in.

More cliff walls.  Then it got progressively scrubby, and very dry.  It was most disappointing, no canyon to speak of.  We thought we’d pop up and show Anna, Emma and Murray Dug’s canyon but we walked right past it, you couldn’t even tell where it was.

Another 50m and we came to a drop into a pool (Steve in the deep pool).  The point of no return.  Do we just find a way out, go back and use Dug’s exit out, or continue downstream to South Bowen Creek and reverse up the creek to the canyon exit.  It was a really hot day, so none of us wanted to bush-bash to force an exit so we opted to go down to South Bowen Creek – as it turned out, an ill-fated choice.

Anna at the abseil into the pool.

Brass Monkey Emma thought the water was very cold at the end of the abseil, she gritted her teeth for the whole swim!

Now we’re all soaking wet, but at least cooler, still heading down to the Creek.

In the Creek – not overly exciting yet.  Dave N had told me that there were many nice canyon sections downstream of the South Bowen exit.

There were a number of long pools to swim, but there wasn’t a current to speak of so, whilst the water was cold, the swims were relatively easy.

The usual flood debris and rocks to scramble over of course.

Followed by nice sandy creek beds.

And then more swims or wades, some difficult to get out of.

It’s a really pretty part of the creek, not often visited and very green (Steve and Anna).

Nice canyon formation.

More nice canyon formation and a compulsory swim.

Another compulsory swim with a difficult exit.

It was around about now, only half way up the 1k that we had to travel, that I walked into something submerged in muddy water, couldn’t see what it was but it really hurt.  I had knocked both legs.  I wasn’t wearing a wetsuit, but was wearing thermals.  I rubbed the legs (always do that with a bruise) but didn’t look at them.  We then caught up to 3 other people and when we all stopped to chat I had a look down at my right leg.  “Sh*t, that doesn’t look good”, quickly covered the wound up (hate the sight of my own blood).  Then looked at the other leg “Sh*t, that’s awful!” and quickly covered that.  Emma, Anna and Trish all moved into high gear.  We halved my snake bandage and they bandaged the wounds as best they could.  I had another hour or so of walking plus an hour or so after the exit route, but amazingly there wasn’t much pain and not that much blood!  I didn’t take many photos from this point on, only a couple.

I thought this section was particularly nice so took a photo of it.

We’d been told by the people that we met that we were 1/2 hour from the exit and there were a few climb-ups (it actually took much longer than that).  The crew really looked after me as I was very nervous about banging either of the wounds.  They helped me up all the climbs that I would have struggled with and took most of the gear I was carrying out of my pack, and eventually Steve took the pack off me.

One of the climb-ups with Emma and Murray down the bottom.

Anna on the climb up.

We got to the South Bowen (S.B.) exit at around 4pm and Steve headed off to get Trish’s vehicle and bring it up to the S.B. car park, we had parked about 2k further along the road.

We arrived at the S.B. car park at 5pm and Trish bundled me into the car and off to Lithgow Hospital (she was forward thinking enough to call ahead to find out if they were busy, otherwise we would have gone to Katoomba).  The hospital staff and doctor were wonderful.  We were out of there by 8pm and back at camp by 9 for a late dinner.

Right leg has a 4cm V tear, left leg has a 10cm gash, you would have thought when I hurt the first leg, I wouldn’t have moved the other leg forward wouldn’t you.  I think I’d better wear shin guards from now on, or at the very least the wetsuit legs.

I couldn’t look at my legs till they were bandaged up. These bandages were changed to smaller ones after letting the wounds settle for a while.

So, a couple of days have gone by, I’ve visited the doctor, and all seems ok.  I did say to the doctor at Lithgow, “maybe I shouldn’t be doing this sort of thing at my age” and he pooh poohed that idea, so I guess once I’ve recovered, I’ll be out there again, this time with more leg protection, and maybe elbow guards!




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16 Responses to Are the canyon gods trying to tell me something?

  1. Jeff says:

    Good job Marilyn
    At least you have time to repair whilst your away so you can canyon when you get back.
    Still plenty of canyon season left!

  2. Peter says:

    Hope you have a speedy recovery. Brad says he is sorry for jinksing you.

  3. Trish says:

    It was lovely to be able to pay you back for all the times you’ve got me through some mammoth adventures. Was a good crew who all pulled together well. Enjoy the Noryhern Lights and a break from the heat. We’ll plan some more adventures for you to take us on.

  4. David says:

    Geez Marilyn…tempting fate or what? So close to your trip! Cheers!

  5. Cathi HH says:

    Would be interesting to know what you hit that actually gashed rather than bruised… that doesn’t happen all that often, even without a wetsuit. Decent wounds too – you definitely get bragging rights for those! Hope the flight isn’t too uncomfortable after all this, may it all go well!

    • marilyn says:

      Yes, I often have crush wounds (walking into something and banging up the leg), but not that often full on tears (at least not on the legs). The flight will be fine, I am very fortunate in that I am flying first class (I have a wonderful fairy godmother) and with Emirates so plenty of champagne and a bed so I can elevate my feet!

  6. Jen says:

    Have a great trip away! Good news you can elevate your feet in the flight. Don’t forget to do your leg exercises in flight. Swollen legs with open wounds might be a bit uncomfortable!

  7. Roy Cotton says:

    Marilyn the American footballers have some great body armour. Alternatively my wife Kerie can teach you to knit. Have a wonderful trip.

    • marilyn says:

      Already know how to knit – and play bridge, so have a fall-back position. I was thinking more along the lines of ice hockey shin pads!

  8. Steve Rowse says:

    Thanks for another adventure with M, hope you are no the mend and have a great trip to the northern lights.

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