I’m pretty sure this is the fire trail

NEWNES PLATEAU – Zorro Canyon, 23 February 2019
After a night of rain (the weather and temperature hasn’t improved at Mt Wilson) I met up with the “crew” for Saturday’s canyon, Serendipity. None of us were overly enthusiastic about a really “wet” canyon so we started tossing around dry options.  Rod came up with Zorro, he and I were both familiar with it, Steve R, Alan G and Alan C hadn’t done it before.  Zorro here we come!

We didn’t have any maps (they were at home), and all we had was a grid reference, but, how hard can it be, Rod and I had both done it heaps of times!

So, we headed out to Newnes Plateau, leaving one car at the Zig Zag railway and (wisely) taking 2 vehicles one of which was 4WD and the other (I think) was 4WD, not that we’d need them as the road that we planned to take was suitable for 2WD vehicles.

Rod and I (who knew where we were going) were in the one vehicle to compare memories.  All was fine until we came to a sign for Bird Rock Trail.  Now we knew that we didn’t want to take that as, whilst it headed the way we wanted to go, it was definitely 4WD.  So we headed to the next fire trail, and bugger me, it was another Bird Rock Trail (how can there be two), but we headed up there just in case our memories were flawed.  And, yes, we arrived at Bird Rock, so we retraced our route back to Sunnyside Ridge Fire Trail and headed for the next fire trail.

Yep, this looked right, so we headed down it.  At a fork in the road, I am pretty sure I’m the one that said “yep, turn left”.  The road, gradually deteriorated into a full-on 4WD track and I started having misgivings.  About now I think Rod muttered “this isn’t it, it was the other fork in the road”. trail.  So we decided to turn around, and go back to the other fork … easier said than done!

It was at this point that Rod’s car decided it didn’t want to be 4WD any more and refused to go over a big hole. It was too stressful for me (after all it was probably my fault we were on this bad road in the first place).  The guys got to it and did a bit of road-building and eventually Rod’s car agreed to go over the hole.

We drove back to the Y intersection and went down the right arm of the fork and both Rod and I agreed that yes, this was more like what we remembered and we were on the right fire trail.  It did seem longer that we remembered it though, and a lot more downed trees that we had to drive around.  I was looking for a specific burned out tree, laying in the forks of 2 trees, and eventually passed what “might be it”, then we got to the end of the road and turned back and parked at that dead tree.  I’m not sure that Rod was overly confident of my memory by this time!

It was about at this time that I started second-guessing whether or not we had enough rope, we had 2 x 40m ropes and 1 x 20m rope.  I seemed to recall that the first time I did it we had 2 x 60m ropes, ah, well, we’d manage (thinks me hopefully).

We put a grid reference into my GPS (which has a miniscule map on the screen that I have trouble reading) and headed off towards a creek, Rod’s still not confident of my direction but agrees to give it a go (he’s probably still remembering the time I swore blind that we were in a creek and I was wrong).  After walking down the creek, we came to a pagoda and low and behold, we were right at where we were supposed to be (luck on my part I think).

Steve negotiating his way down the start, a slot in the rock that drops you straight into the canyon.

Alan G on the first climb-down.

Alan C at the first abseil.

Alan G on the first abseil.

Rod at the first abseil.

Alan C and Steve at the end of the first “wet” part.  Not very deep but quite smelly as the canyon hasn’t been flushed out in a while.  These two tall guys managed to stay relatively dry.

Rod, doesn’t stay so dry.

The second abseil.  The anchor on this isn’t anything to write home about.  It’s around a chock-stone and you can’t see half of it, but there are two, if one fails the other one should be fine (crossed fingers).  We might have voted to send Alan G over first!

Alan at a small pool, you can see the canyon, straight as a die heading back towards the last abseil.

At the bottom of the abseil.  The feature of this canyon is it’s almost dead straight, just like a rift in the cliff, and then almost at the end it does this little zig and zag like a Z (for Zorro).

Rod negotiating around a small pool.

Where the canyon does the zig and zag.

And then we’re at the end.  We decided to do the abseil in two stages, off a big tree and then down to a ledge and then rig the rope again.  Our two 40m ropes (used double), reached the ledge with nothing to spare.

We then rigged the 2nd stage off a tree, and the rope just made it to the bottom again (I think), mind you, at this ledge, you could walk around to the right and walk down a ramp, but we were there to abseil, so we did.  Both stages of the pitch were really nice.

So, now we’re at the bottom and it’s just a matter of walking around 50m or so and up another gully.

Again, this gully is as straight as an arrow, and filled with tree ferns, probably the prettiest exit route from a canyon that you’d find.  Well, there are a few climb-ups that you have to do which can be challenging for those of us who aren’t as tall as we think we are, but nothing that needed a hand-line.

Once at the top of the gully it’s just a matter of getting up to the ridge and then following the high ground back to the fire trail, and what do you know, we nailed it, walked straight to the cars, how good was that.

Thanks so much for doing this canyon with me Rod, Alan C, Alan G and Steve, it was a lot of fun, and much better than swimming through a seriously wet canyon.

Alan G and Steve returned to Mt Wilson with me and we waited for Heather to arrive (and Murray and Emma).  We had a communal dinner and Steve and Alan did the barbecuing.  The rain held off and we had plenty of fire wood and lots of wine, life doesn’t get much better than that.

Banner:  We’ve just realised Rod’s car wouldn’t make it across the hole.
Thumbnail:  Alan on one of the abseils.


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4 Responses to I’m pretty sure this is the fire trail

  1. Adrienne Drysdale says:

    Some great shots Marilyn

  2. Jenny hughes says:

    Love your adventures! Bit like a romance, they always work out in the end!

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