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!
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).
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.
So, now we’re at the bottom and it’s just a matter of walking around 50m or so and up another gully.
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.
Banner: We’ve just realised Rod’s car wouldn’t make it across the hole.
Thumbnail: Alan on one of the abseils.