GLEN DAVIS – 12 May 2018
John G had scheduled a return trip to Drowned Rat Canyon for this weekend and even though I couldn’t do the canyon because of my injured knee, I wasn’t going to miss out on the trip!
What’s the story on the knee? Yep, when I fell off a retaining wall on the Forresters Beach to Crackneck tourist walk with my Grandson Bailey back on Anzac Day, I tore or stretched my MCL ligament on my right knee. My physio, Michael, said that I could do a walk in the bush, not sure he had this type of walk in mind though.
Trip Background: Back in October 2017, we had sussed out this canyon (temporarily referred to as Drowned Rat Canyon – it was raining on the day and we were soaked, looking like drowned rats). We found a creek with an abseil and knew that the creek disappeared over a cliff, so we determined to return to do the full trip and the Big Abseil at the end (part of the attraction).
(When I loaded this post (on 11/5/18) I had a pic here of what the end of the canyon looked like from the valley, but I had a dream last night (22/5/18) and in the dream at the end of the canyon before John and I were going up to retrieve the anchors there was a group of 30 canyoners, like a “meet up” group all going to do the canyon and they’d figured out which one it was from the photo – really freaked me out, so I’ve deleted the photo!)
Whilst I knew my knee wouldn’t stand up to a full day, I figured I could walk to the base of the abseil to check if the 60m ropes that we had would reach the bottom. Cooper’s Granddad, Jeff B, said he’d drive up with me to Glen Davis for the weekend. It was good that Jeff would go with me, as with a dodgy knee, I didn’t want to walk the k on untracked ground by myself. As it turned out Garth McL joined us for the walk too.
John G, Andrew B, Cathi H-H, Cat McL and Anna O-B were doing the canyon trip and set off from camp at 8am on Saturday morning. We did a rough estimate and figured they’d be at the start of the abseil (at the earliest) around 12.30pm. Jeff, Garth and I lazed around until 10.30am and then drove over to Glen Davis to start the walk in.
We discovered that there’s a bloody great fence around the Glen Davis ruins and a couple of houses on the fenced off land, so we backtracked to the campground and parked Cat’s car just beyond the ford and headed off.
Finally we reached the base of the abseil. John had obtained a pair of walkie talkies for us to use and I had turned mine on at 11.30 (as agreed), but all we got was silence.
We sat around for a while, and then it was 1pm. Were we in the right place? (yes), had they already done the abseil and gone done past us? (possibly), how long should we wait? (who knows). We sat around and got colder and colder … should we start a fire to warm up? (maybe) but did we have enough water to put it out? (not really).
2pm came and went and we’re getting colder and colder. We retreated back closer to the cliff face trying to get out of the bitterly cold wind. Eventually we decided to light a small fire to keep warm and what a relief! Finally, around 3pm we heard John’s dulcet tones on the 2-way. They were up the top of the cliff face.
Another half hour went by when they had to set up another abseil to get further down. Finally we can see John at the top and he set up an anchor and threw over his brand-new 60m (pink) rope.
They then threw over the other 60m rope (white). They had thrown the middle part of the rope, followed by the end and the rope didn’t reach the bottom. We thought that it was coiled up a little higher above (and let them know what we though), so Andrew started abseiling, but when he got to where we thought there was rope coiled up, we discovered that no, all the rope was deployed and it was 10m too short. Turns out that John’s 60m white rope may have shrunken a little over the years (the ropes do that)!
With everyone down the bottom now, we all headed back down to the campground, arriving around 5.30pm. A little later than expected!
So, would they go back. The consensus was that it was nice enough but no reason to go back! Hold on … what about me, I haven’t done it. Ok, John’s agreed to do it again, this time with two ropes that are definitely both 60m! When we do it, someone (probably John) will not do the final 60m abseil but will take out the anchor that he left behind today and then retreat up the canyon (prussicing each pitch) and take out all the anchors, that way the next party that goes down will have the feeling that they are the first descent, a much better experience than finding an old anchor and knowing that you’re not the first to do it.
So, did the knee survive. Well, not quite, I slipped on a rock and jarred it, but I think it’s ok, we’ll see when I visit the physio on Tuesday!